The New York Mets have a respected history of charitable giving, and under Steve Cohen’s ownership, they should take these efforts to the next level.
As the new owner of the New York Mets, Steve Cohen takes over both the product on the field and the team’s community outreach off the field. He has already stated that his wife Alex will be running the Mets Foundation, the team’s main outlet for charitable giving. The Cohens have their own charitable organization, aptly named The Cohen Foundation. To date, this foundation has donated $625 million, spread across 3,032 grants, to causes including lyme disease research and prevention, underserved communities, children’s hospitals, and the arts.
The Mets have engaged in many outreach initiatives through the Mets Foundation, which was founded in 1963. They prominently support causes like youth baseball development, military and first responders, and other New York-area organizations like the Mary Brennan Inn and New York Cares.
Regardless of this existing generosity, in one of his first statements as the Mets’ new owner, Cohen pledged to “dramatically increase the giving of the Mets Foundation in the coming years, with priority given to non-profits and causes in communities surrounding Citi Field.” With that in mind, here are a few outreach initiatives that I would love to see during Cohen’s time as owner.
Youth baseball games played at Citi Field
In the past, the Mets have partnered with Little League baseball teams, such as East Rockaway Little League, to sponsor events like the “Future Stars Game” that was scheduled for June 2020 before the pandemic prevented fans from attending regular season games. This event would have featured a pregame parade for members of the Little League team, followed by tickets to that night’s Mets game.
That is all well and good, and I am sure that the kids would have gotten a kick out of going on the field before the game. But what if the Mets took it one step further and actually allowed local Little League teams to play baseball ON the Citi Field grass? Something like this could take place during the All-Star break, when the Mets have no scheduled home games for several days straight.
The Mets did a similar event back in 2013, several days before the 2013 All-Star game at Citi Field. Two local Little League teams, the Queens Kiwanis Champions and the Glen Oaks Little League Challengers, faced off in a one-inning game on the outfield grass at Citi Field. Since then, it does not appear that the Mets have made events like this one a yearly occurrence.
During the next phase of Mets ownership, I would love for the Mets to bring back “on-field Little League games” on a more regular basis. Not only does it endear them to local Little League organizations and the surrounding community, but it gives the kids a very tangible experience of what it might feel like to one day achieve their goals of making it to the major leagues.
In an era where MLB is wondering how to grow the game, perhaps getting more teams to give Little Leaguers a taste of the big-league experience might excite kids enough to keep playing, watching, and sharing the game for years to come.