Major League Baseball announced its World Series lineup of community themes on Tuesday, marking the fifth consecutive year it will use its greatest stage as a platform to raise global awareness for important causes and leave a special imprint on two metropolitan areas.
Community activities will include a V.A. hospital visit, youth clinics, home construction, fighting cancer, the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, and the first-ever Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Scouting Showcase.
The 109th World Series starts Wednesday on FOX (7:30 p.m. ET airtime, 8 ET game time) at Fenway Park in Boston. Game 1 will be dedicated to honoring veterans and military families, as well as emphasizing baseball's support of the military through Welcome Back Veterans. Game 2 on Thursday will focus on two longtime MLB charitable partners in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity.
The series then shifts to Busch Stadium in St. Louis. For Game 3 on Saturday, MLB will highlight its commitment to youth from underserved communities through the RBI program, the importance of education through the Breaking Barriers program, and celebrate community service through the announcement of the winner of the Clemente Award winner. Game 4 on Sunday will look to inspire fans worldwide to join MLB and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) in advancing the fight against cancer.
"As a social institution, it is a privilege to use the worldwide platform of the World Series to highlight causes that are essential to Major League Baseball and our fans," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "The enormous global audience that our Fall Classic attracts gives us a unique opportunity to draw attention to the significant initiatives by MLB and our partners to support our military, help our youth and fight cancer."
Game 1: Wednesday at Boston on FOX
Veterans and Military Families: Welcome Back Veterans
The backdrop of this game is part of the national pastime's ongoing support, specifically through the Welcome Back Veterans initiative. As has been the case each Fall Classic since Game 1 of the 2009 World Series in New York, there will be a veterans hospital visit early in the day and a special on-field, pregame ceremony at the ballpark featuring Medal of Honor recipients.
Launched in 2008 by MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Welcome Back Veterans has awarded more than 3 million in grants to non-profit agencies and hospitals supporting returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families' greatest needs, focusing on treatment and research of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Game 2: Thursday at Boston on FOX
Impacting Lives: Boys & Girls Clubs of America/Habitat for Humanity/BTF
MLB will celebrate the work of Boys & Girls Clubs and Habitat for Humanity, two longtime partners of MLB. Look for recognition of each organization's efforts through local activity in the community, including a youth clinic at a local Boys & Girls Club, and special on-field ceremonies at the ballpark. Through the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, MLB and Habitat are repairing one home in each of the four League Championship Series cities. The renovations of the home in Boston will be highlighted that morning.
Additionally, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund will be recognized during a special pregame ceremony with MLB and the MLB Players Association presenting the organization with a .5 million donation toward the growth of youth baseball and softball. BTF is a joint initiative between the MLBPA and MLB designed to promote that growth throughout the world by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coaches training material and other selected program expenses.
Since its formation in 1999, BTF has awarded more than 700 grants totaling 4 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia, serving more than 330,000 youths.
Game 3: Saturday at St. Louis on FOX
Youth Development & Education: Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities /Breaking Barriers
As the series shifts to St. Louis, this theme focuses especially for those in underserved communities, through MLB's RBI and Breaking Barriers programs. RBI provides kids from underserved communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic achievement and teach important life lessons and values. Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life is an education and essay writing-based program developed by MLB, Sharon Robinson (MLB's educational programming consultant), and Scholastic to educate students in grades four through nine about Sharon's late father, Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947.
Youth from both programs will be recognized during pregame, on-field ceremonies. Prior to the game, young people from local RBI programs, ages 5 to 13, will attend a "Wanna Play?" event and clinic. "Wanna Play?" is a multifaceted initiative administered by Boys & Girls Clubs of America that is primarily dedicated to youth fitness. Also, in recognition of the creation of the On-Field Diversity Task Force, MLB will bring to the Fall Classic for the first time a collegiate and professional scouting showcase for RBI participants, ages 14 to 18.
The winner of the Roberto Clemente Award will be announced prior to Game 3. The annual award, presented last year to Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, recognizes a player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
Game 4: Sunday at St. Louis on FOX
Advancing the Fight Against Cancer: Stand Up To Cancer
Now a prominent tradition at each Fall Classic and the All-Star Game, SU2C will share the prominent stage with the two clubs going after a title. Throughout the game, fans in the ballpark and at home will be encouraged to donate to SU2C, and there will be a special moment when fans and players hold up placards with the names of loved ones affected by the disease.
In 2008, MLB became a founding donor of SU2C, which focuses on getting innovative therapies to patients as quickly as possible. The organization has funded 10 research Dream Teams of 500 scientists from 101 institutions. The newest SU2C Dream Team unites experts in the historically separate fields of genomics and immunology to collaborate on new therapies for high-risk childhood cancers. Since its launch, SU2C has grown significantly with support from players, fans and all 30 MLB clubs, and MLB has committed more than 5 million in funding.
Other community initiatives
In each World Series city, MLB will visit a children's hospital to donate a new Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment unit containing the latest gaming system that rolls bedside in hospitals to provide distractive entertainment and therapeutic play for pediatric patients.
MLB and TEAM Coalition supported the designated driver programs at all MLB ballparks during the 2013 championship season with a special incentive: fans who registered as a designated driver were entered into a drawing to be the club's official "Designated Driver." The "Designated Drivers" from each league's champion will each receive two tickets and will be honored during the first and third games of the World Series.
MLB and the Natural Resources Defense Council collaborate at MLB.com/green, and baseball will incorporate a wide variety of environmentally sensitive efforts during the Fall Classic including:
The "World Series Green Team" initiative during each game, with volunteers collecting refuse for recycling and supplementing existing recycling programs; raising public awareness to educate fans about how to become more environmentally sensitive via online materials and PSAs; prioritizing recycled content materials at events throughout the World Series; and addressing energy usage through efficiency measures and by investing in renewable energy offsets.
"Whenever we have an opportunity to sponsor, to help out, give money, bring attention to something, we're doing our job as part of the American culture," said Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who participated in the 2009 World Series that first brought this level of dedication. "Baseball and America go hand-in-hand. ... Anytime you can partner up, just bring joy to people who are going through things rough in their lives, you're doing your job. Not just as a baseball player, but as an American."
Visit MLBCommunity.org for more information on each of these programs and all of MLB's community initiatives.