What You Need to Know About MLB Players Weekend

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If you’re a baseball lover, you might already feel the buzz. This coming weekend, August 25th-27th, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association are holding the inaugural “Players Weekend” with all 30 teams participating.

But it’s more than just a celebration of the national pastime. The first Players Weekend also marks a chance for baseball fans to get to know their hometown players a little better, as well as a chance for players to showcase some of their personal style, and speak to fans about their love for the game.

“We’re really in the heart of a transition to a next generation of players,” says Chris Marinak, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of league economics and strategy. “Right now there’s a lot of young guys just starting the game that are making an impact, and others that are going to be future Hall of Famers.”

Marinak says that even after last year’s retirement of Boston Red Sox giant David Ortiz, and fairly recent retirements of other legends like New York Yankees superstar Derek Jeter, the game is growing. It’s all thanks to a bumper crop of new and exciting players, as well as the game’s diversity and mixed styles of play. Marinak points to young players like Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, who at age 24 is already a five-time All-Star and one-time National League MVP. Then there’s Aaron Judge of the Yankees, and Los Angeles Dodgers wunderkind Cody Bellinger, two rookies who are reshaping the game – and sports headlines – each day.

But Players Weekend isn’t only about highlighting perennial all-stars and tomorrow’s marquee names. Equally celebrated are the hometown fan favorites, from starting pitchers and lesser known relievers, to MVP-caliber sluggers on down to the multi-positional utility man and the trusty platoon player. Marinak says that each one has a story.

“We wanted a way to accelerate the process of fans getting to know them,” he explains. “We have 800 players in the Major Leagues and each one of them has a unique story that fans, at every local level, can make a connection with.”

What you’ll see when you tune in to watch baseball this Friday, Saturday and Sunday are regularly scheduled games, while teams continue to be locked into the late August rally onto winning divisions and playoff spots. But each team will be a wearing a special edition Majestic Athletic brand Players Weekend jersey, an alternate pullover shirt cast in a brighter version of team colors, with a little bit of personal touch.

On each player’s right sleeve will be a special Players Weekend patch with the words “Thank You” and a space in which players will write in the name of a person critical to their personal development.

Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins 25-year-old outfielder, says that without a doubt “Mom” will be written on his jersey’s Thank You patch. Yelich tells Rolling Stone that his family has been the greatest influence on his path in baseball – and throughout life.

“Family’s been big for me ever since I started playing,” Yelich says. “And I think that’s going to be something a lot of players will have on their shirt, a name of a parent or family member.” Yelich also shared an anecdote about his very early days at the plate.

“I almost quit playing baseball when I was six or seven because I was scared of the ball,” he admits. Yelich, who grew up and played little league baseball in Thousand Oaks, California, said that as a young tot he wouldn’t step close to the plate or take swings. But eventually his parents’ encouragement, and certain incentives, took over.

“My parents kept pushing, and one time they offered me five bucks if I would hit the ball,” Yelich says. By the next game, thanks to his parents’ persistence, he swung and got his first little league hit. “It traveled only a few inches off the bat. But after that one [plate appearance], I wasn’t afraid of the ball anymore.”

ust like Yelich, Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco says he had the same kind of encouragement from his family at a very young age, starting the game at age 4 in his native Venezuela.

“It was my mother – an amazing, incredible woman – who took me my first time to the baseball field, because she wanted me to play baseball and learn to enjoy and love the game.” Along with seeing him off to practice and watching his every game, Carrasco said his mother would “catch me in the bullpen” Carrasco, who started pitching at age 11, would warm up and prepare to pitch with his mom as his catcher.

Carrasco also mentions too that it was a coach that got him pitching in the first place. He said that a friend of his father, named Luis Montero (no relation to Venezuelan Toronto Blue Jays catcher Miguel Montero), was the one who spotted Carrasco’s strength and poise as a third baseman.