Braves readying for Civil Rights Game

Braves readying for Civil Rights Game

Braves readying for Civil Rights Game
ATLANTA -- As the Braves prepare to host the Civil Rights Game for a second consecutive season, fans will have a chance to spend this weekend learning more about the city of Atlanta's rich history in the civil rights movement.

Before Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's career home run record at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on April 8, 1974, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young were among the influential leaders who spearheaded their civil rights efforts while calling Atlanta home.

The selfless and brave contributions made by these men and others will be celebrated, as Major League Baseball brings the 2012 Delta Civil Rights Game to Atlanta again this weekend. Activities will begin on Friday with a civil rights roundtable discussion, and conclude on Saturday night when the Braves host the Dodgers in a game that will be aired on MLB Network.

"The Civil Rights Game is a great opportunity for the Braves and Major League Baseball to celebrate our role in the civil rights movement," said Braves executive vice president Derek Schiller. "Atlanta has special significance in the civil rights movement.

"This is [a] natural fit for us. We are proud to host the game for the second straight year. This provides a chance to engage our fans and build upon the inclusion of all fans with the game of baseball."

This year's event features a matchup between two franchises that played a significant role in baseball's integration. The Dodgers gave Jackie Robinson a chance to break the game's color barrier in 1947. Three years later, Sam Jethroe became the Braves' first African-American player, and won the 1950 National League Rookie of the Year Award.

"It was a really cool event last year," Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said. "I regret that I was hurt and was not able to play in the game. I'm really looking forward to playing in this year's game and taking it all in again."

Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and Commissioner Bud Selig will be among the MLB officials who will be present to experience this event with Aaron and some of Atlanta's other civic leaders.

The festivities will begin at noon ET on Friday with a roundtable discussion on baseball and the civil rights movement, moderated by Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree. Tickets are still available for this event, which will feature discussion regarding baseball's role in the fight against racial intolerance.

The Braves are also looking forward to the opportunity to welcome hundreds of local children on Saturday morning for a clinic at Turner Field. This event is not open to the public.

One of the highlights of this year's event will be the Beacon Award Luncheon presented by Belk. The awards are annually presented to individuals whose lives are emblematic of the spirit of the civil rights movement.

This year's winners include former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe, Georgia congressman John Lewis and the founding members of the recording group Earth, Wind & Fire. Tickets are still available for this event, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Atlanta Hyatt Regency.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.