MLB Announces The Creation Of The Civil Rights Game

By Off The BASN Sports Wire
Updated: December 5, 2006

MLBLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals will play the Cleveland Indians in the inaugural Civil Rights Game that precedes the opening of the 2007 season, Major League Baseball announced here at a press conference at the annual Baseball Winter Meetings.

“This game is designed to commemorate the Civil Rights Movement, one of the most critical and important eras of our social history,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “I am proud of the role that Major League Baseball played in the Movement, beginning with Jackie Robinson’s entry into the big leagues on April 15, 1947, and very pleased that we have this opportunity to honor the Movement and those who made it happen.”

The Civil Rights Game, which will be held annually, will pay tribute to one of our country’s most significant eras of social change and honor Major League Baseball’s involvement in the historic struggle through which legendary African-American players broke barriers and made important contributions to American society.

The inaugural Civil Rights Game will be played on March 31st, 2007, at AutoZone Park in Memphis, TN, home of the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, beginning at 4:30pm CST. The game, which will be televised live on ESPN, will culminate a day of celebrating the Civil Rights Movement.

“The St. Louis Cardinals are honored to be a part of the inaugural Civil Rights Game,” said Cardinals President Mark Lamping. “We feel a strong connection to the city of Memphis through our Triple-A affiliate, and are proud that the Redbirds’ home AutoZone Park will host this day-long celebration of a pivotal time in our nation’s history and the role that baseball played in the Civil Rights Movement.”

Major League Baseball expressed its gratitude to the Memphis Redbirds for their support of the inaugural Game. Within the shadows of AutoZone Park is the National Civil Rights Museum a beneficiary of the Civil Rights Game. The Museum was built in 1991 at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, which now serves as a powerful living tribute to the Civil Rights Movement.

“The Cleveland Indians organization considers it an honor to participate in the inaugural Civil Rights Game,” said Indians President Paul Dolan. “We are extremely proud of our role relative to the integration of Major League Baseball as we hold dear the legacy of Larry Doby as the first African- American player in American League history in 1947 and Frank Robinson becoming the first African- American manager in baseball history in 1975.”

As part of the event, Major League Baseball will be making donations to several charities including the National Civil Rights Museum, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Negro League Museum and other local Memphis charities.

“The National Civil Rights Museum is honored to join Major League Baseball in paying tribute to the struggles, success and contributions that people of color have made to the sport,” said President of the National Civil Rights Museum Beverly Robertson. “We hope this game will focus the attention of the nation again on this vital history and rekindle a spirit of enthusiasm among youth to become more actively involved in making a difference in their communities and America’s national past time.”

Major League Baseball also announced its collaboration with filmmaker Spike Lee in the creation of a documentary that will showcase the efforts of legendary civil rights pioneers as well as Major League Baseball’s role in supporting the rights of African Americans. The five-minute documentary will air for the first time during Civil Rights Game festivities.

“The Civil Rights era and its pioneers are one of great importance and should not be forgotten,” said filmmaker Spike Lee. “I am pleased to join Major League Baseball in celebrating and reflecting on the tremendous achievements that African-American players made as they changed the game of baseball and contributed to one of the most significant times of social change in our country.”

As part of the day’s events, the annual Major League Baseball Beacon Awards will be introduced at a fundraising luncheon and will honor various individuals for their efforts on behalf of Civil Rights throughout the world.

“In 2007, the Civil Rights Game and the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier remind us of the cultural importance of baseball,” said Len DeLuca, senior vice president, programming and acquisitions. “ESPN is delighted to collaborate with Major League Baseball to honor the sports history of this watershed movement.”

Tickets for the Major League Baseball Civil Rights Game will go on sale on Tuesday, December 5th and will be available at, and Tickets will also be available on and at the AutoZone Park box office beginning Wednesday.