Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of State and Major League Baseball are entering a new era of “diamond diplomacy” in the Western Hemisphere. In a renewed partnership with Major League Baseball, current professional baseball players will accompany Olympic softball stars to Colombia and Panama to serve as Sports Envoys. The U.S. Department of State recognizes the unique ability of America’s national pastime to connect with youth throughout the Western Hemisphere, as baseball enjoys an especially ardent following in Central and South America.
From January 12-17, Jeremy Guthrie, starting pitcher with American League champion Kansas City Royals, and Jessica Mendoza, Olympic softball gold medalist and member of the State Department’s Council to Empower Women and Girls through Sports, will head to Panama City, Colon, and Aguadulce, all in Panama. From January 19-23, Houston Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie will travel to the Colombian cities of Bogota, Cartagena, and Barranquilla, followed by Olympian Ruby Rojas, who will travel to the Colombian city of Santa Marta from January 29-February 1.
The programs will leverage baseball and softball’s ability to engage youth audiences to promote conflict resolution, gender equality, and cooperation, all central to the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama in April. The Sports Envoys will hold sessions that promote the importance of education and highlight opportunities to study in the United States, as well as the importance of racial inclusion and the participation of women and girls in sports. Sessions will also highlight the relevance of engaging at-risk youth in sports programs as a way to encourage leadership development and teamwork skills.
These pre-Spring Training programs begin a new phase in the State Department’s relationship with Major League Baseball. While the State Department has a long history of working with legends of the game including Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ken Griffey, Jr., Lowrie and Guthrie are the first active Major Leaguers to serve as State Department Sports Envoys.
Follow the on-field action via the hashtag #DiploBat and through the Facebook pages of SportsDiplomacy, Embassy Bogota, and Embassy Panama.