Red Sox President Makes Lasting Impression for NCCU Baseball Program

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DURHAM, N.C. – Boston Red Sox President Sam Kennedy made a lasting impression on his recent trip to Durham, North Carolina in support of North Carolina Central University’s baseball program.

Having become familiar with NCCU after the Red Sox hosted the Eagles and Florida A&M University for a game inside Fenway Park on April 25, 2015, Kennedy accepted an invitation to serve as the keynote speaker at NCCU’s fifth annual First Pitch Dinner and Silent Auction on Jan. 29.

The eventful day  began with a tour of NCCU’s 135-acre campus, followed by a sit-down meeting with NCCU Chancellor Dr. Debra Saunders-White.

“North Carolina Central University is grateful to the Boston Red Sox for their partnership with our university and the Department of Athletics, especially their support of the talented student-athletes and skilled coaching staff who make up our baseball program,” Saunders-White said. “Mr. Kennedy’s personal interactions with these players and other members of the NCCU community give us a unique opportunity to showcase NCCU’s development of its students, including our student-athletes, who excel both inside and outside the classroom.”

Kennedy then met with the NCCU baseball team, sharing his personal story as a college student-athlete and his journey to becoming President of the Red Sox. He encouraged the young men to continue their passion for baseball after their playing days by pursuing careers in the administration of the game.

At the fundraising dinner, Kennedy was showered with gifts of gratitude. He was presented with a letter from Governor Pat McCrory, welcoming Kennedy to the state of North Carolina. He was handed the Key to the City of Durham, North Carolina, by Cora Cole-McFadden, Mayor Pro Tempore, on behalf of Durham Mayor Bill Bell. And he was acknowledged with a proclamation from NCCU read by Saunders-White and pinned with an official set of “eagle wings.”

Kennedy also came to the event bearing gifts. He opened his remarks by presenting the Boston Red Sox Super Fan Award to the parents of Sean Bunn, Ben and Marion Bunn. Sean, who was unable to attend the dinner because of his battle with cancer, is the Governor of the Triangle Red Sox Nation fan club.

Among many illustrations of how the Red Sox are reaching out and making a positive impact in the community, Kennedy poignantly noted in his keynote address the franchise’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. Shortly after he took over as President of the Red Sox in October 2015, the organization “unveiled a renewed set of values which guide our operation day in and day out,” he said. “At the Red Sox, we pride ourselves on creating an inclusive environment that embraces diversity.

“Having grown up as a kid in Boston, less than two miles from Fenway Park, and now as an executive in Major League Baseball, I am able to view the Red Sox from two different lenses – the past and the present. Frankly, the Red Sox are not proud of our past record of diversity and inclusion,” said Kennedy, pointing out that the organization was the last major league team to integrate in 1959. “Unfortunately, we cannot remake the past. All we can do is look ahead. During my 14 years with the Red Sox, our focus has been to ensure that everyone feels welcome at Fenway Park, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or orientation. This guiding principle has defined and will continue to define our franchise moving forward.”

Kennedy hit a home run.

“I am so pleased with the NCCU First Pitch Dinner this year featuring Mr. Sam Kennedy, President of the Boston Red Sox,” said NCCU Director of Athletics Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree. “It was an incredible evening for our baseball student-athletes, coaches and our athletics program, and a unique experience that we will never forget.  It was important for our young men to engage with a relatively young leader of such a powerful organization.  During his one-on-one meeting with the team, Mr. Kennedy reinforced what we teach our young men every day that being dedicated, having a plan, and how taking advantage of internships or volunteer opportunities will indeed pay off.

“The Boston Red Sox organization has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to enhancing the lives of our student-athletes and I hope that other Major League Baseball organizations will join in and assist our universities in developing our future citizens and leaders,” McCree added.

NCCU head baseball coach Jim Koerner also expressed his gratitude to Kennedy and the Boston Red Sox for their support. “Our First Pitch Dinner again proved to be a wonderful event,” said Koerner. “This year’s involvement of Boston Red Sox President Sam Kennedy was a great experience for our student-athletes and fans.  With the dinner we were able to build momentum toward opening day, while gaining additional support from a wide variety of areas.”

Kennedy understands that his trip to Durham in support of the NCCU baseball program was about more than just baseball. “The partnership between NCCU and the Red Sox started because of baseball, but it means so much more,” Kennedy said. “These student-athletes are learning how to be members of a team and members of a community with civic responsibilities that extend far beyond the diamond.”

 

 

 

 

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