NEW YORK -- Commissioner Rob Manfred, MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark and incoming Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. highlighted a group who came together on Thursday to announce a number of exciting new initiatives to advance youth baseball.
During the All-Star Week in Cincinnati last summer, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association committed $30 million to a new joint initiative focusing on "improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the United States and Canada."
At Citi Field on Thursday, both parties came together to announce several advancements in the joint youth effort, including the appointment of Griffey as a youth ambassador.
Other announcements included financial contributions to youth baseball projects and the creation of a partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance for the training of coaches and administrators from the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program.
"In my first 18 months or so [of being Commissioner], there's been no topic or project that has been more important to me than to try and re-engage young people in playing the game of baseball," Manfred said. "Fortunately for Major League Baseball, our players and former players have been great partners with us in this effort."
In his role as a youth ambassador, Griffey will serve as an advisor and central spokesman for a variety of baseball and softball initiatives from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Additional duties will include producing special instructional and promotional videos for these efforts and attending special events, including camps, clinics and tournaments.
"This is something that these guys have paved the way for, and for me to be the face and continue to build on what I consider the greatest game out there ... this is truly a day that I'm excited for," Griffey said. "... Even though I retired [from baseball] six years ago, I still think about it every day."
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are also donating nearly $2 million to several youth-focused initiatives supported by current and former Major League players, including Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson and former All-Stars Marquis Grissom and John Franco.
"Having the active players and former players come out and having the experiences I had ... these are the things that are going to continue to keep kids interested and get that interest back, and those are the things we are trying to do," Granderson said.
Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.