SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners will host a salute to the Negro Leagues and Juneteenth celebrations this weekend.
"We get to celebrate one of my favorite official holidays now – Juneteenth," said Mariners outfielder Taylor Trammell. "I think I'm most excited for people to actually learn about what Juneteenth is and educate more people."
Juneteenth, which is on June 19, marks the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas received news of the Emancipation Proclamation – two and a half years after the proclamation was signed in 1863.
During a split doubleheader on Saturday and another game on Sunday, the Mariners will offer special programming to honor the Seattle Steelheads and the Negro Leagues.
"I kind of get emotional a little bit," Trammell said. "Just because those are the people that paved the way for guys like me to be able to play this game."
The Seattle Steelheads made their debut in 1946 as part of the new West Coast Negro League. The team was made up of players from Abe Saperstein's Harlem Globetrotters baseball team, according to the Negro Leagues Baseball Players Associations (NLBPA).
The West Coast League folded in July after just a month of play with Seattle in second place, according to the NLBPA.
"Paying tribute to the Steelheads is important because I feel like those guys passed the torch to people like me and I'm gonna pass it to the next generation," Trammell said.
During the Mariners’ first game on Saturday, the team will wear replica Seattle Steelheads uniforms to honor the 1946 Negro League franchise. The uniforms will then be auctioned off to raise money for the Mariners Hometown Nine program, which addresses barriers experienced by student-athletes, especially those of color.
Fans can also purchase Steelheads merchandise to benefit the program.
On Sunday, the Mariners will host a panel on the field before the game featuring former and current Mariners and a Hometown Nine member who will discuss their experiences as Black men playing baseball.
The first 10,000 dads through the gates will also receive a Seattle Steelheads hat in honor of Father’s Day.
At all three games, Black community leaders, musicians and athletes will be featured in the pregame festivities, including singing the national anthem and throwing out the first pitch.
"This is a chance for the organization and the players to pay tribute to those who came before us," said Mandy Lincoln, Mariners senior director of experiential marketing. "All of those trailblazers that really helped shape the game over a century ago."