Former Mets greats celebrate diversity in MLB
Wilson, Alfonzo on hand in New York to discuss baseball's cultural heritage
NEW YORK -- For Mookie Wilson, there is no better city in which to celebrate the diversity in baseball than New York. At the T-Mobile FanFest on Saturday, Heritage Day did exactly that.
"I can't think of any better city in the world, more diverse city in the world, than New York," said Wilson, who played with the Mets from 1980 to 1989. "It's important that we recognize the diversity and the cultures that are involved in baseball as well as in New York."
Major League Baseball celebrated Heritage Day at the Jacob K. Javits Center by giving fans a chance to learn about the diversity in the game through exhibits and presentations. Vera Clemente and Sharon Robinson conducted Q&As, and Wilson and fellow All-Star Ambassador and former Met Edgardo Alfonzo were on hand to celebrate the event.
Wilson and Alfonzo, along with several other former MLB players, also spent time signing autographs for fans.
Saturday's theme, though, was all about the rich cultural history baseball has built through the years.
Alfonzo said this was a special day for him and the fans, as it is important to remember and promote the diversity that has existed in the game.
"I think it's great; it gives everyone the opportunity to shine, to participate," Alfonzo said. "I think it's great to have that opportunity."
As part of the festivities, Alfonzo became the 61st member of the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Hall of Fame. Alfonzo, who hit .284 over a 12-year career that included an All-Star appearance while with the Mets in 2000, said it was an honor to be inducted.
Clemente, widow of the baseball legend and Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, presented a plaque to Alfonzo.
"I'm so honored and proud to be here this afternoon in honoring a man that has given so much of himself not only to baseball," said Gabriel "Tito" Avila Jr., the founder, president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, "but of course, to the Hispanic community and the community in general."
Both Alfonzo and Clemente addressed the crowd in Spanish after doing so in English.
Wilson said baseball had helped promote diversity not only in the sport, but also in society. During Saturday's Heritage Day, in a diverse city like New York, that cultural past became the center of attention.
"I think that Heritage Day is important because baseball is very diverse," Wilson said. "I think that baseball has always been at the forefront of diversity, and it kind of set the stage for even what our society has become, very diverse."
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.