National Commander Clarence Hill talks with Major League Baseball's Roy Krasik on April 16 in New York. Amy C. Elliott

Legion salutes MLB for supporting veterans

The April 16 meeting in New York City between American Legion Baseball and Major League Baseball (MLB) staff was successful, and one that will be reoccurring for years to come. The meeting ended the way it began, with American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill offering sincere gratitude to MLB officials for their ongoing support and commitment to U.S. troops and veterans.

Before Hill accepted a $40,000 check from MLB officials - an annual contribution that has been dedicated to The American Legion Baseball program since 1932 - Hill recognized the ways in which MLB has given back to troops and veterans over the years.

MLB's support dates back to World War II, when it began the tradition of singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to every game. Since then, Major League Baseball has generously continued their efforts of honoring troops and veterans. Namely, MLB players wore American flag patches on their uniforms during Operation Desert Storm, a "Welcome Back Veterans" organization was recently founded, and many teams host an annual "Salute to Veterans." Last year, the Detroit Tigers conducted a "Salute to Veterans" during select games throughout the season by inviting a current member of the U.S. Armed Forces to deliver the official game ball to the pitcher's mound at Comerica Park.

"Although only one soldier is honored each time, allowing members of the armed forces an opportunity to throw the game ball serves as a thank you from the Detroit Tigers to the many soldiers serving our country around the world," Hill said.

After accepting the donation for Legion baseball and recognizing MLB, Hill spoke about the success of Legion Baseball and the many ways The American Legion and MLB can continually partner on issues that affect veterans and their families. For instance, the commander spoke elaborately on Legion Baseball's newly redesigned Web site, the process of selecting a permanent site for Legion Baseball World Series in effort to establish a more visible program, and the relationship many Legion Baseball teams have with MLB teams to promote the game of baseball. In terms of future collaboration with MLB, Hill discussed proper flag etiquette and flag education; the new Need A Lift? CD-ROM which all MLB officials received a copy of; and the Legiontown USA blog site where members, friends and family share stories and photos.

"We want MLB officials to immediately think of the Legion and pick up the phone to call when they are in need of education or want to honor veterans," Hill said.