NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Continuing Major League Baseball's newest preseason tradition, the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets will meet in the second annual Civil Rights Game on March 29, 2008, at Memphis' AutoZone Park. Details of the game were announced at a Monday evening media conference led by Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's baseball operations executive vice president, at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center, site of the annual Winter Meetings. Flanking Solomon on the dais was an appropriately diverse group representing the participating teams, each of whom humbly welcomed the opportunity to share the reflective spotlight.
Mets manager Willie Randolph talked of the "sense of pride" he gets from the game. Ozzie Guillen, his White Sox counterpart, felt "great to be a part of this." Both general managers, Ken Williams of the White Sox and Omar Minaya of the Mets, expressed gratitude for the invitation to participate in the 2008 Civil Rights Game, which already has a difficult act to follow. "This year's event was tremendous," Solomon said, "and I know next year will carry on that tradition." With its inaugural game last March, the Civil Rights Game instantly became a significant MLB milestone, a symbolic eternal torch commemorating the struggle for racial harmony near where the most painful obstacle had been thrown in its path. AutoZone Park, the 7-year-old home of the Memphis Redbirds, St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate, sits six city blocks from the National Civil Rights Museum, site of the former Lorraine Motel at which Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The inaugural game's success -- not only a 5-1 Cardinals win over the Indians, but also of the socially conscious events surrounding it -- assured its continuity as a yearly affair. "It was a proud moment for all of baseball," Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said Monday, "and I am excited that two great franchises have committed to carry on this significant tradition. Major League Baseball and its players have contributed immensely to this movement and will continue to play an important role in our society's social history." Williams called it "a tremendous honor." Minaya said the Mets were "honored to be participating." "The role baseball has played in promoting civil rights and cultural change in this country has great personal significance for me and for many other members of the White Sox organization," said Williams, one of MLB's two current African-American GMs, along with Tony Reagins of the Los Angeles Angels. "Baseball's history and tradition need to be remembered, celebrated and constantly re-evaluated by everyone connected with the game," Williams added. "The Civil Rights Game provides us all with an annual opportunity to do just that, and we look forward to playing in this year's exhibition contest against the Mets."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.