The Pittsburgh Pirates held their annual African American Heritage Weekend with a variety of events on Aug. 20 and Aug.21 as they hosted the New York Mets at PNC Park. The event captures the essence of the Pirates community efforts and highlights the contributions of African-Americans in Pittsburgh.

On Friday the Pirates recognized six “Community Champions” during a special pregame ceremony.

PITCH FOR EDUCATION—Chaz R. Kellem, manager of Diversity Initiatives for the Pittsburgh Pirates, presents twins A’isha J. Jackson, left, and I’Asha J. Jackson, right, with the 2010 Josh Gibson Foundation and Pittsburgh Pirates Scholarship at the Heritage Weekend game.

Chuck Sanders from Urban Lending Solutions, Bridget N. Driver from FedEx Ground, Baron B.B. Flenory from Pressley Ridge, Jim Bendel from Adelphoi Village, Tony Joseph from Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater, and Joseph Lagana from Homeless Children’s Education Fund were all nominated by their fellow citizens for having positively contri­buted to the betterment of the diverse community in our region.

On Saturday the annual festival took place on Federal Street. Approximately 20 organizations were on hand to provide information on different community initiatives and resources available throughout the Pittsburgh region. Vendors included the H.J. Heinz Black Employee Resource Group, H.J. Heinz Black Employee Resource Group, Every Child Inc, August Wilson Center, Mentoring Partnership of SWPA, DARE Fatherhood Magazine, Pittsburgh RBI, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, Urban League of Pittsburgh Mentoring Program, Massage Eny, Hip Hop on L.O.C.K Project, Family Resources, Heritage Community Initiative, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Kelly Strayhorn Theater and Three Rivers Community Foundation. In addition, the Afro-American Music Institute performed live on Federal Street, and carnival-style food was available for purchase.

ALL SMILES—Andrew McCutchen with the 2010 Josh Gibson Foundation and Pittsburgh Pirates scholarship winners twins I’Asha J. Jackson and A’isha J. Jackson.

Pirates’ centerfielder Andrew McCutchen was presented with the Larry Doby “Legacy” 2009 Rookie of the Year Award in a pregame ceremony. The Legacy Awards are presented by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum annually to recognize the outstanding achievements of Major League Baseball players and officials with awards named for the great players of the Negro Leagues. Larry Doby helped to integrate Major League Baseball when he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1947.

The Pirates and Mets honored the Negro Leagues by wearing Pittsburgh Crawfords and New York Cubans uniforms and all fans received a Pittsburgh Crawfords cap courtesy of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Fans were also encouraged to stop by Highmark Legacy Square, a permanent interactive exhibit to honor and preserve the history of the Negro Leagues and the great players from the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords. The interactive exhibit, located inside the Left Field Gate Entrance at PNC Park, shares the inspiring story of these remarkable athletes that helped revolutionize the sports and business world in their own way and is open throughout the entire baseball season.

On the field, the Mets beat the Pirates 5-1 in a game called in the top of the sixth inning because of rain before 28,759 fans.

The lone bright spot was Andrew McCutchen, who hit two doubles and scored the lone Pirates run.

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