to Make Baseball Cool for Kids Again

They sit across the negotiating table as adversaries, but Rob Manfred and Tony Clark are also partners.As the commissioner of Major League Baseballand the head of its players union, respectively, cheap mlb jerseys
Manfred and Clark have significant differences, but also common goals. There’s little they agree on more than the need to bring the game to younger audiences, to increase baseball’s appeal to the next generation.They need to get through to the kids, which is why eight months ago they got together on a conference call and appealed to The Kid for help.Ken Griffey Jr. goes by many names. He’ll always be Junior to many, and he’ll always be Uncle Griffey to some.But he’s also The Kid, a nickname that made sense when he was a 19 year old rookie with the Seattle Mariners and still makes sense now as he closes in on 50 and heads into the Hall of Fame.”We’re trying to engage young people,” Clark said. “Having my face on it isn’t going to do it. No disrespect to the commissioner, but his face isn’t going to do it, either. Who can do that?”Who else but The Kid? Who else but the guy who managed to stay young through a 22 year career in the major leagues, the guy kids were always drawn to, the guy whose many charitable ventures always involved reaching out to children?”It was too natural a fit,” Clark said. “To me, it was the perfect marriage.”From Griffey, there was a simple answer.”I was like, let’s do it,” he said.So even as he prepared for this weekend in Cooperstown, and the ceremony that will make him a Hall of Famer, Griffey made plans for the next stage of his baseball life, the one that will see him serve the game as Major League Baseball’s first “youth ambassador.”The job seems open ended, which suits Griffey well. He’ll make videos and appearances, and if all goes well, he’ll encourage a new generation of kids to choose baseball. “He’s going to open doors or kick some doors down.”But more than that, he’ll be in charge of proving to another generation that baseball is for them, that baseball can be cool.”Before it was cool to be cool, Junior was cool,” Clark said.He still is.Griffey has been a magnet for years, without even trying to be one.Andrew McCutchen grew up in Fort Meade, Florida, all the way across the country from Seattle. But it was Griffey who drew him to baseball, making such an impression that the young McCutchen wore a Mariners jersey he still has to this day.”He was one of the main reasons I played baseball,” said McCutchen, the 2013 National League MVP with the Pittsburgh Pirates. “When the TV was on and he was playing, I was watching. I didn’t care what he did, I just wanted to watch him.”McCutchen wasn’t alone. Players all over baseball speak of Griffey in glowing terms.”That was my idol growing up,” Kansas City Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson said. “Just a special player.”Griffey played the game well, but he also played it with flair. He’d wear his cap backward at a time when no one else did, and he had a constant smile on his face at a time when so many thought it was more important to look serious.He was fun to watch, but more than that, he would make baseball look like fun.”I wouldn’t be a baseball player if I didn’t think it was fun,” McCutchen said.The Kid made it look fun.Griffey’s connection to kids goes far beyond how he played the game. From his early years with the Mariners, his charity of choice was the Boys Girls Clubs, and his contributions went far beyond handing out money.


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