When the baseball season pauses for Major League Baseball’s All-Star week taking place in Seattle’s T-Mobile Park in July, a very important event for the future of Black and brown players in the game of baseball will commence.
50 Division 1 HBCU baseball players will earn the opportunity to showcase their talent on a national stage during the 2023 All-Star Week in Seattle⭐️ pic.twitter.com/9FqDj89m1d
— MLBDevelops (@MLBDevelops) December 6, 2022
The collaboration of Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and the MLB-MLB Players Association Youth Development Foundation will bring the HBCU Swingman Classic for baseball student-athletes at historically Black colleges and universities to the festivities.
What Is HBCU Swingman Classic?
As a second generation MLBbro icon, Griffey Jr. understands that HBCUs do not have the advantages that he had coming up the ranks and the Swingman Classic can provide exposure and awareness.
“It gives an opportunity for these guys to be seen; plus, they want to continue their baseball career like everyone else,” said Junior, who had 13 All Star appearances and 10 Gold Gloves throughout his career. “This is an opportunity for these guys to be out there on a big stage, to have fun with some guys who played the game at a high level and learn some things.”
Coincidentally, the MLB Draft combine had their first HBCU participants as well. Hylan Hall, Trey Paige and Xavier Meacham, who participated in the Draft combine will be in the Swingman Classic as well.m
All three MLBbros of the future shared how important this time is in their career and lives via MLB.com…
“I didn’t expect to be invited [to the combine] at all. I was super excited,” said Paige, an infielder from Delaware State who’s transferring to Kentucky for his senior year. “I called my parents and my sister right away, they were freaking out. I think my mom started crying on the phone. It just shows that I put in a lot of hard work and it’s getting noticed.
“This shows that you can go to an HBCU and still get the same recognition as some of these bigger-name schools.”
While Paige is transferring away from an HBCU, Hylan Hall transferred to Bethune-Cookman. His family affair comes from his teammates…
“I think everything happens for a reason,” Hall said. “I thank God for putting me in that position. He wouldn’t give you something that you’re not ready for. It’s just something that had to happen to me. That’s my story.”
Continuing with the family theme, Xavier Meachem has Black college in his blood since his parents went to North Carolina Central. The right-handed pitcher, Meachem, has found inspiration in MLBbro Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen. This young player is trying to pass that inspiration to his N.C. A&T Aggies teammates.
“A lot of guys are hungry and have gone through adversity throughout their whole baseball career,” Meachem said. “So a lot of guys play with a chip on [their] shoulder [and that’s what’s] special about our program.
“It’s really important because in the future [there will be] a lot more minorities in the game,” Meachem said. MLB providing these resources is going to increase [the participation for] these players. You’ll see a lot more minority talent in the league sooner or later.”
There will be a ton of MLBbro talent represented on the field and in the dugout including the coaches.
— MLBDevelops (@MLBDevelops) June 9, 2023
The two teams are managed by former MLB managers Jerry Manuel and Bo Porter, supported by former MLBbro players and HBCU representatives like Andre Dawson, Cito Gaston, Ken Griffey Sr, Rickey Weeks Jr, Marquis Grissom, Marvin Freeman, Vince Coleman, Lenny Webster and Trenidad Hubbard.