To help commemorate a ribbon cutting at the new batting cages at Vernon Dahmer Park in Hattiesburg, Petal native and Major League Baseball standout Anthony Alford will be on hand to distribute baseball gear and food boxes for the community during a drive-through event from 2-4 p.m. Jan. 8.
The drive-through will be held immediately following the ribbon cutting at the park, which is located at 1000 Country Club Road in Hattiesburg. The event is being conducted by The Players Alliance, a group of current and former baseball players who aim to elevate racial equality and provide greater opportunities for the Black community, both in the game and the places in which the players live and work.
“We’re going from coast to coast, to pretty much communities that have been impacted by COVID, and really just supplying kids with baseball equipment, trying to promote the game in those minority communities,” said Alford, who is a member of the alliance. “We want to promote the game of baseball and give them the resources they need to level the playing field.
“I’ve always had a passion for doing stuff like this, especially when it comes to giving back to communities in need, because I know what it feels like to be one of those kids growing up in the community and feeling hopeless. It really warms my heart to see that I’m able to help somebody.”
Baseball equipment that will be distributed includes bats, gloves and other supplies that young players need to get the season started. In addition to that and the food boxes, The Players Alliance also will hand out COVID relief supplies and personal protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies – including Lysol wipes – and other things that were hard to find in the early days of the pandemic.
No registration or ID is required, but masks and social distancing will be enforced. The event will last as scheduled or for as long as supplies last.
“It means a lot, being from this area and knowing a lot of people around here,” Alford said. “I’m actually from Columbia, but I went to Petal, so it means a lot to me to be able to give back to the people in my hometown.”
The Players Alliance, which has donated a total of $41.7 million to Black communities, consists of 143 players who have made 76 MLB All-Star appearances and make up $3.5 billion in MLB player contract value. More information on the organization can be found at www.theplayersalliance.com.
“(The children) love it,” Alford said. “They get to interact with a lot of MLB players; I know (Derek) Jeter was in Miami and C.C. Sabathia was in New York. So you get a lot of major league guys who come out and just interact and spend time with the people in the community.”