The World Series Community Initiative for Game 1 of this year’s Fall Classic was dedicated to veterans & military families and revolved around the ‘Welcome Back Veterans’ initiative and events were spearheaded by the culmination of Bank of America’s ‘Express Your Thanks’ campaign.
In addition to the associated on-field pregame ceremony and a set of other activities taking place at the ballpark, the official bank of the MLB’s campaign to help returning service members and veterans make the transition to civilian life rounded off in Kansas City’s Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium.
The sponsor’s campaign revolves around the bank and its partners creating opportunities for Americans to demonstrate their appreciation for the troops at major events, in-bank and online.
The campaign initially launched on Memorial Day and it stretched across in in-branch and online channels, as well as at its major sporting partnerships with NASCAR and MLB and NFL teams and culminates around Game 1 of the World Series.
It ran a series of events throughout the campaign: from its Fleet Week initiative in New York City where Times Square visitors were invited to write a message of thanks and snap a picture which was then broadcast on the Bank of America Times Square billboard, to its activation at the Bank of America 500 NASCAR race on 11 October which asked fans to participate in a ‘stand and salute’ tribute.
While online, participants were encouraged to share gestures of gratitude via photos, messages, tweets.
Each and every act resulted in a $1 donation from the bank.
The showpiece event within the programme at World Series Game One saw Bank Of America reach its goal of $1m in donations to support military nonprofits and motivating one million people to participate.
The programme ended during Game 1 when Bank of America provided American flags for fans at each Kauffman Stadium entrance and asked all fans to participate in a “Stand and Salute” moment during the 7th inning stretch (immediately following God Bless America) to honour service members and veterans.
As the entire crowd stood, this moment ensured the bank achieved its aim to capture one million expressions of thanks for members of the military in 2014 as part of its “Express Your Thanks” campaign.
To celebrate reaching the campaign goal, Bank of America, in partnership with Welcome Back Veterans and the Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program, worked with 2013 World Series Most Valuable Player David Ortiz to surprise three veterans with tickets to Game One of the World Series to enjoy the game and be present for the ‘Stand and Salute’ moment.
All funds raised by ‘Express Your Thanks’ support reintegration initiatives for veterans and their families that span mental health, housing and employment programs.
Another associated strand of the MLB initiative saw league official, former star players, the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld all visit veterans at the Kansas City VA Medical Center Honor Annex.
Local veteran, and former PTSD sufferer and current volunteer, Staff Sergeant Pedro Sotelo threw out the ceremonial first pitch, whilst retired Naval Petty Officer 1st Class Generald Wilson sang ‘God Bless America’ before the bottom of the 7th inning.
Another part of the MLB’s programme saw former US Senator Bob Dole (from Russell, Kansas), who served in the US Army during World War II as a combat infantryman, honoured with a place in the Budweiser ‘Our Hero Seat’.
While continuing the Kansas City Royals tradition of honouring a member of the community who embodies an aspect of the spirit of the former Negro Leagues Baseball player, US Marine Corps Veteran Tony Clark sat in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat.
Whilst two new public service announcement spots ran on Fox’s game telecast in support of Welcome Back Veterans.
The spots capture both the emotional spirit and significance of baseball’s unique role in welcoming back our service men and women.
The creative and production of both spots was by BarrettSF.
Since 2008, MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation have committed more than $30m to Welcome Back Veterans (WelcomeBackVeterans.org).
It was five years ago that the MLB first introduced its World Series Community Initiative – to raise awareness for important causes associated with the League’s own charitable initiatives and those of MLB partners.
In effect they form a set of game-specific community service initiatives to the World Series involving spectators, viewers, players, umpires and sponsors as a high-impact backdrop to the on-field Fall Classic action.
This programme began in New York with Game 1 dedicated to military veterans and their families and this continues with this year’s opening game of the World Series between Kansas City and San Francisco.
The line-up for the dedications for this year’s 110th Fall Classic includes:
Game 1: Veterans & Military Families
Game 2: Education & ALS Awareness
Game 3: Advancing the Fight Against Cancer
Game 4: Youth Outreach
‘Major League Baseball is proud to utilise the global platform of the World Series to highlight causes that are important to so many of our fans and our culture as a whole,’ explains MLB commissioner Bud Selig.
‘Baseball is a social institution with significant social responsibilities, and it is a privilege to draw attention to organizations that work tirelessly to address these challenges.’
Bank Of America ‘Express Your Thanks’
Bank Of America ‘Homebase’
Bank of America Twitter
Welcome Back Veterans
MLB Community Programme