‘My Dad Gave Back To Baseball. It’s Now My Turn.’ | Ken Griffey Jr. Talks HBCU Swingman Classic As Rosters Are Unveiled

Inaugural rosters for the HBCU Swingman Classic, following last year’s announcement of the event by Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation. With the annual All-Star event for baseball student-athletes from Division-I programs at historically Black colleges and universities, Griffey Jr. is excited about giving back to the game.

“My dad gave back to baseball,” Griffey Jr. told MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds on Friday. “It’s now my turn.”

A Showcase During All-Star Week

The festivities will take place during MLB All-Star week in July at T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners, the franchise Griffey Jr. played with for the majority of his legendary career.

The game will be played between two teams made up of HBCU student athletes and the teams will be managed by former Major League managers Jerry Manuel and Bo Porter. The coaching staffs will also include: Hall of Famer and HBCU alumnus Andre Dawson’ two-time World Series Championship manager Cito Gaston; three-time All-Star and two-time World Series Champion Ken Griffey Sr. and former MLB players Rickie Weeks Jr., Marquis Grissom, Marvin Freeman, Vince Coleman, Lenny Webster and Trenidad Hubbard, who are HBCU alumni.

Major League Baseball has seen a steady decline in Black players over the last few decades, an event like this and a push by the league and Griffey Jr. can be something that pays dividends in the years to come.

The HBCU Swingman Classic along with the Hank Aaron Invitational are both aimed at improving the game’s diversity.

As the son of a MLB player, Griffey Jr. had some advantages that these HBCU student athletes don’t, and this is a way to pay it forward. Though ultimately it’s about talent. If you’re elite, some organization will find you.

“It gives an opportunity for these guys to be seen; plus, they want to continue their baseball career like everybody else,” Griffey Jr. said. “This is an opportunity for these guys to be out there on a big stage, to have some fun with some guys who played the game at a high level and learn some things.”

50 Players From 17 Schools Were Selected

Players were selected from: Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Alcorn State University, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Bethune Cookman University, Coppin State University, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Grambling State University, Jackson State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Mississippi Valley State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T University, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University and Texas Southern University.

During the game, Griffey Jr. will spend time in the dugout of both teams and the players will have the opportunity to ask questions and get advice on anything they want.

“You can always stay in the game that you love and help the next generation,” Griffey Jr. said.

Griffey Jr. knows the game inside and out and was a world-class player as a high-school teenager. He can breakdown the mechanics of the baseball swing as well as anyone and has a pretty good one to emulate.

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