Ken Griffey Jr. employed to improve diversity at the youth level

The Kid is back in a role that fits the name.

Ken Griffey Jr. joins MLB as senior adviser to Commissioner Rob Manfred, announced the league on Friday. The job will involve a number of different issues, but will focus on baseball operations and youth development with a focus on improving diversity at amateur levels.

Griffey who leads youth diversity in baseball

Griffey, a 13-time All-Star over a 22-year career, will also serve as an MLB Ambassador at youth baseball initiatives and special events, such as the All-Star Game and post-season parties.

“I am humbled to be asked to work with Major League Baseball in this role,” Griffey said in a statement. “It will be an honor to represent the best sport in the world and to promote our game among today’s youth.”

He has served as a youth ambassador for MLB and the MLB Players Association on the baseball development initiative since 2016, the same year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“We are proud that Ken will represent Major League Baseball at some of the most important stages of our sport, along with our current and future stars,” Manfred said in a statement. “We welcome the perspective and insights that Ken gained as a historical player, as a parent and as someone who has spent his life in and around our fantastic game.”

Griffey, known as “The Kid” when he was a 19-year-old rookie with the Seattle Mariners, has worked to encourage children to choose baseball as their sport. The video shared by MLB shows him explain why it’s cool to play it.

He spent time with the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox during his playing career and won the 1997 MVP Award and 10 gold gloves. Griffey, 51, often worked with the Boys & Girls Club as a player and was named by current players as one of the generation’s most influential players.

He and his wife, Melissa, have three children who all excelled in sports, so he has seen first and foremost the modern framework for youth, high school and colleges.

MLB lacks diversity

Ken Griffey Jr.  speaks into a microphone.
Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. will work for MLB in youth initiatives. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren)

Baseball is often seen as “uncool”, which is easy to see because MLB can be seen as suffocating and conservative. The average age of fans is 57 years.

Black, Indigenous and Colored People (BIPOC) play baseball, but participation has declined. The usually beats roadblocks to continue past the earliest levels and need investment and genuine alliance from MLB to address the lack of diversity in the sport.

MLB and USA Baseball founded the Dream Series to prepare youth players and increase diversity, but it is focused on high school players. The program Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities was created for young people, but has its own challenges described in Yahoo Sports’ Privilege of Play series.

Griffey will face the challenge of answering some of these questions to improve diversity and keep children interested in a sport that is often seen as one where players must stay within a rigid box of unwritten rules.

He has already had a lasting impact on MLB in addition to his play on the pitch. In 2007, Commissioner Bud Selig Griffey extended the idea of ​​wearing No. 42 Jackie Robinson Day to all field staff. It has continued every year since then.

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