D.C.’s MLB All-Star Week Is Dripping With Diversity

As Major League Baseballs All-Star game rolls into Washington D.C., once known as the Chocolate City, the league has stepped up its already commendable efforts to capture and celebrate baseballs historical diversity, the triumphs of African-American players and the various cultures that continue to drive the game into the next century.  

MLB has several different diversity & cultural-focused initiatives happening during this years All-Star Week, with the overall goal of highlighting the contributions that diverse individuals and communities make to baseball and its growing fanbase, Steven Arocho, MLBs Senior Director, Communications and Youth Engagement told The Shadow League.   

“The list of initiative and events include the inaugural youth baseball and softball tournaments featuring mostly kids from our Urban Youth Academies, an unveiling of a Negro Leagues mural and special events focused on enriching the local community in Washington D.C. through fashion, entertainment, arts and sports,” Arocho said.  

Heres a list of exciting, diversity-driven All-Star Week events that MLB will be sponsoring in D.C.  

First Annual All-Star Commissioners Cup & Jennie Finch Classic

July 13th July 16th

RangersYouthAcademy on Twitter

2018 Rangers Jennie Finch Classic Team: Ladaysha Robinson, OF #ASG #DCBound #PlayBall #RangersYA #JennieFinchClassic @mlbdevelops @mlb @rangers @playball @mlbnetwork @MLB_YA @JennieFinch


Rosters include players from MLB Urban Youth Academies, including Mone Davis, the most popular little league pitcher on earth

Davis, the female pitching sensation from the drama-filled, inspiring and barrier-busting 2014 Little League World Series – an unprecedented and historical showcase of  Little League Baseballs young Black Knights — is now playing baseball with the boys for Phillies UYA and will compete against two other teams from the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. 

Cheriss May on Twitter

Mo’ne Davis @ mural dedication for Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, Josh Gibson. . . . . . . . #cherissmay #lifeofaphotojournalist #visualstoryteller #lovewhatidodowhatilove #mlb #allstar #mamiepeanutjohnson #clowns #joshgibson #grays #history #womenphotograph #dc #dcmural


MLB Youth Academy teams from Compton, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Dallas, Kansas City, Bronx and Puerto Rico will also be represented. 

MLBs academies serve as year-round, free facilities for baseball and softball participation and development in underserved communities. We have seen the positive effects of these academies and MLBs other initiatives such as The Breakthrough Series and Elite Development Invitational experience. They have proved to be of great value to inner-city student-athletes, as more than 20 percent of the MLB’s first-round Draft picks over the past five years have been African-American

Del Matthews on Twitter

A decade in, Breakthrough Series still on rise https://t.co/wo7AQDOO4B

The inaugural All-Star Commissioners Cup and Jennie Finch Classic will be competitive youth baseball and softball tournaments, respectively, featuring 10 teams (ages 17 and under) from mostly MLB Youth Academies from around the country and Puerto Rico.  

The games will be played at different locations throughout Washington, D.C. including the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, Gallaudet University and George Washington University. 

RangersYouthAcademy on Twitter

Ximena Zamarron is a slick fielding middle infielder who, at age 14, is the youngest member of the @Rangers Academy Jennie Finch Classic team & RBI All Star team. Good luck in Vero Beach this weekend at the Elite Development Invitational. @MLBDevelops @MLB_YA @MLBRBI @JennieFinch

Both universities will lodge the players throughout the tournament. The kids will also understand the meaning of giving back as some will volunteer at MLBs official Volunteer/Greening Event on Saturday as well as serve as clinicians at ‘PLAY BALL’ Park.

Negro Leagues Mural Tribute

Today, MLB unveiled a special tribute mural adjacent to the iconic Bens Chili Bowl dedicated to honoring Negro Leagues baseball and trailblazing pioneers  Mamie Peanut Johnson and Josh Gibson

Johnson, the first female pitcher in the Negro Leagues, joined the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953 and compiled a 33-8 record during her three-year career. Johnson was one of three female players to ever play in the Negro Leagues and has been previously honored at the White House by President Bill Clinton.

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson: Hopes And Dreams Of Playing Professional Baseball


Josh Gibson is widely considered to be the Negro Leagues Babe Ruth and greatest power hitter of all-time. A 12-time Negro Leagues All-Star, Gibson was a catcher signed by the Homestead Grays in 1930. The Grays played home games in Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. 

In 1972, Gibson became the second Negro Leagues player to be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Gibsons grandson, Sean Gibson presented remarks for the mural unveiling which is displayed near murals of other well-respected luminaries along the wall, such as President Barack Obama, Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Muhammad Ali and Prince.

Sydney Heiberger on Twitter

New mural being unveiled today at @benschilibowl on U street honoring Mamie “Peanut” Johnson and Josh Gibson. @nbcwashington

MLBs Diversity & Inclusion Department debuts Culture + Code

10am to 7pm 

On July 14, 2018 at Blind Whino in the heart of DC, Culture + Code will provide a day of panel discussions, guest speakers and fireside chats on topics that highlight entrepreneurship, e-sports, culture and the arts thriving within our nations capital from 10am to 7pm.  

With the intent of highlighting the diversity of DC and exposing a new generation to Major League Baseball, Culture + Code will provide a platform to showcase new ideas as well as celebrate the history of people of color and women in the game. Added features include an exhibit from the Negro League Museum, a cleat/sneaker customization workshop, music, giveaways, and much more. Special guests include Sway Calloway, Chris Jackson from Hamilton and Kickstradomis. See the full schedule at MLB Culture + Code. Its free and open to the public. RSVP here.

HISTORY:  Hear a firsthand account about the history of the Negro League hosted by Sway Calloway of Sirius Radio.

FASHION:  Conversation on sneaker and customization culture

BUSINESS: Entrepreneurs can network and pitch their ideas to venture capitalists and businessmen for feedback and potential investment

ARTS:        Producer Samantha Barrie and playwright Lydia Diamond discuss their off Broadway production of Toni Stone, one of the first women to play baseball in the all-male Negro League

E-SPORTS: Fortnite Derby with members of the 2018 Futures teams, introducing the next generation of baseball to a new legion of fans in an interactive setting

The after party runs from 9pm to 4am and world famous DJ and sneaker head Clark Kent will be on the 1’s and 2’s. 

MLB Assembly  

The Wharf

Friday, July 13th Monday, July 16th

A first-of-its-kind, MLB Assembly will celebrate baseball at the intersection of art, fashion, and music, featuring a diverse lineup of brands and influencers.

Andreea Robescu on Twitter

The coolest @angelanddren X @mlbassembly this weekend #MLBassembly #mlb #majorleaguebaseball #ArtFashionMusicBaseballASSEMBLED https://t.co/7YfEdSMrOQ

All-Star Legacy Initiatives

There are four specific events that were selected as part of the 2018 All-Star Legacy initiatives designed to make an impact in underserved & diverse communities. All-Star Legacy over the years has donated more than $85 million since 1997.

July 11th Dedicated a new All-Star Pavilion at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy

July 13th New Mobile Dental Unit to Provide free dental care to children in Wards 7, 8 and elementary students at Amidon-Bowen School in Ward 6

July 14th Newly-renovated youth baseball field in Prince Georges County, which is a hub for the RBI program in Greater Washington

July 17th The star project of 2018 All-Star Legacy will include major renovations to a teen center at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Richard England Clubhouse #1 

Julia Hamm on Twitter

Dusty Baker, @MLB legend, comments to @SEPAPower audience at 2018 Power Players Awards dinner how impressed he is with the gender and racial diversity in the room. We’ve come a long way…

Breaking Barriers Grand Prize Winner Who Escaped War-Torn Eritrea, Africa

Selihom Kidane, a rising 6th grader from Charlotte, N.C., will be accompanied by Sharon Robinson daughter of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson as an honored guest at Nationals Park prior to the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday, July 16th.

Play Ball on Twitter

@sharonarobinson also made a stop to @KnightsBaseball to see winner Selihom Kidane. (via Charlotte Knights)

Selihom is one of two grand prize winners of the 2018 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life essay contest (Grades 4-6) after writing about her and her brothers courageous 11-month journey to escape war-torn Eritrea and reunite with their mother in the United States, when they were five and 11 years old. The Breaking Barriers educational program is designed to teach students in grades four through nine about the obstacles faced by Jackie Robinson as he broke baseballs color barrier in 1947. 

High School Home Run Derby

Among the eight prospects participating in Sundays High School Home Run Derby is Emmanuel Dean, a young man out of Anaheim, Calif. who was a participant in Junes Breakthrough Series event in Kansas City. He will also be attending the annual Elite Development Invitational diversity-focused camp in Historic Dodgertown later this month.

Hunter Greene on Twitter

Throwback to 2016 ALL Star Weekend High School HR Derby. S/O to my man @joadell25 who’s tearing it up! Excited to share the same dugout this weekend @MLB @MiLB #Futures2018



A free attraction for children and families and will headline All-Star youth and fan engagement efforts. Measuring more than 145,000 square feet, the park is located in the yards at the Capitol Riverfront and infested with fun and interactive activities during MLB All-Star Week. 

Featured elements include the Color Run MLB All-star 5K, special appearances by Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr., Cal Ripken Jr., Big Papi Ortiz, softball legend Jennie Finch and David Ross. 

Boys & Girls Clubs of America/All-Star Play Ball Series

National Capital Region Boys & Girls Clubs will field teams of 10-12 -year-olds to compete in the fourth annual All-Star ‘PLAY BALL’ (plastic bat and ball) Series. 

Baseballs been deliberate, dedicated and genuine in its efforts to increase diversity.  From the players on the field to the executives positions and others running the overall operations of the league on myriad levels, MLB is about preserving history and culture, finding diverse talent and celebrating the contributions of all races, regardless of current roster figures or percentages. 

MLB Breakthrough Series

Eric Schmidt visits with Ken Griffey, Jr. and others, to talk about MLB’s Breakthrough Series in Chicago

All-Star Weekend will give fans an up close and personal view of the culturing of baseball and the people who keep MLBs Diversity engine running.  

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