It’s fitting for Major League Baseball to officially honor its role in spurring America’s Civil Rights Movement by including black players during the 1940s. But it’s also appropriate to recognize the many leagues and individuals who played the game during the decades of segregated baseball that preceded it (and maybe to wonder why it took the league as long as it did to offer inclusion). But perhaps it’s the conflicted history of Major League Baseball that makes Cincinnati an appropriate setting for the league’s first regular-season Civil Rights Game, which will take place Saturday and honor baseball’s many contributions by minority players. It might be difficult for many of us to agree with MLB’s declaration of Cincinnati’s immense progress since the 2001 riots, but having some of the game’s greats in attendance — many of whom can speak firsthand about playing professional ball during segregation — might just open a few eyes around here.
Things kick off Friday evening with a roundtable discussion on "Baseball and the Civil Rights Movement" 4-5:30 p.m. to be streamed live on MLB.com. Panelists will include Tony Perez; Harold Reynolds; Lee Lowenfish, author of "Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman;" Richard Lapchick, Director, Institute for Diversity & Ethics in Sport; Nathaniel Jones, former Justice with U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit; James Clingman, Jr., national "Blackonomics" columnist & founder, Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce; and basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson.
Date: Friday, June 19, 2009
Time: 4-5:30 p.m.
Location: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Admission: Free (reservations recommended)
Here's a look at the schedule for Saturday:
Major League Baseball Beacon Awards Luncheon
Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Bill Cosby will be on hand to accept awards for their lifelong contributions to civil rights. Soledad O'Brien will host, with President Bill Clinton doing the keynote address. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Sugar Ray Leonard and Bob Gibson will present the honors.
Date: Saturday, June 20, 2009
Time: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Location: The Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St.
Admission: $100 per individual ticket/special table packages available
Civil Rights Game Youth Summit/Wanna' Play Spectacular
MLB Network's Harold Reynoldswill be on hand with Brandon Phillips, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Eric Davis for demonstrations and interactions with kids. There will be a Q&A session with "Cory in the House" star Kyle Massey, "Zoey 101" star Christopher Massey, country artist Rissi Palmer, "Bridge to Terabithia" star Josh Hutcherson and Eric Davis
Date: Saturday, June 20, 2009
Time: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.; Q&A 4-5 p.m.
Location: Fountain Square, 520 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Civil Rights Game
Reds vs. White Sox
There will be pre-game ceremonies featuring Aaron, Ali and Cosby, with the ballgame to start around 7 p.m.
Location: Great American Ball Park, 100 Joe Nuxhall Way
Book signings by Satchel author Larry Tye
4-6 p.m. at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum (in The Negro Leagues and Cincinnati exhibit)
Bottom of 2nd inning - Bottom of 4th inning at the Reds Community Corner (located near Gapper's Alley, behind Section 120)