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Willie Mays, Others To Be Honored With MLB Beacon Award

     Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays, women’s sports pioneer Billie Jean King and award-winning entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte will receive MLB Beacon Awards during the 2010 Gillette Civil Rights Game Weekend, a series of events developed to pay tribute to all of those who fought on and off the field for equal rights for all Americans. The Gillette Civil Rights Game will be played between the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, May 15 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and will be telecast live on MLB Network.

     Mays, King and Belafonte will be honored with the MLB Beacon of Life, Beacon of Change and Beacon of Hope, respectively, at the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, which will be held at the Duke Energy Convention Center. The Luncheon will precede the game and highlights will be available on MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball. Former Congressman and U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young will deliver the keynote speech and ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele will serve as mistress of ceremonies. Proceeds from the Luncheon will benefit the MLB Urban Youth Foundation, the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The MLB Beacon Awards recognize individuals whose lives are emblematic of the spirit of the civil rights movement. *Bios for MLB Beacon Award honorees and Luncheon participants can be found in separate attachment.

     “The MLB Beacon Awards give us the opportunity to honor individuals who have made an indelible impact on our society,” said Jimmie Lee Solomon, Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations, Major League Baseball. “Major League Baseball is pleased to welcome all of our special honorees and guests to the Gillette Civil Rights Game, one of our jewel events that pays homage to a very significant era in our country’s history.”

     Hall of Famer Ernie Banks will throw out the first pitch to culminate a series of on-field ceremonies prior to the Gillette Civil Rights Game. Multiple Grammy winner Roberta Flack and Grammy nominee and platinum recording artist Jeffrey Osborne will perform at both the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon and the Gillette Civil Rights Game. In addition to the MLB Beacon Award recipients, renowned recording artist and actress Lena Horne and Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie and founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, will be honored at the Luncheon. There will also be a special tribute to the surviving members of the sit-in at the Greensboro, NC Woolworth lunch counter, a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement in which four African-American college students protested the establishment’s racial policy of serving “Whites-Only.”

     Prior to Saturday’s festivities, the Baseball and the Civil Rights Movement roundtable discussion will take place at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, on Friday, May 14, from 4:00-5:30pm (ET). MLB Hall of Famer and Reds legend Joe Morgan, MLB Network analyst and Reds legend Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, actor and comedian Mark Curry and tennis legend Zina Garrison will serve as this year’s panelists. Harvard Law School professor and renowned expert on race and justice Charles Ogletree will once again moderate a discussion of the pivotal role Baseball played in the civil rights movement and its continued presence as a social institution in American society. The roundtable discussion is an event open to the public and will stream live on MLB.com.

     During a Youth Summit and MLB “Wanna Play?” program interactive area at Cincinnati’s Fountain Square on Saturday, there will be an open-forum, Q&A session beginning at 3:00pm (ET) with MLB Network analyst and former All-Star Harold Reynolds serving as host to Barry Larkin, actor Josh Hutcherson (“Journey to the Center of the Earth”), teen sax sensation BK Jackson and current members of the Reds and Cardinals.        

     For more information or to purchase tickets to the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon and the Gillette Civil Rights Game, please visit www.MLB.com/civilrightsgame.

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CONTACT:   Dan Queen or Steve Arocho, Major League Baseball, (212) 931-7878



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