ATLANTA -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Saturday night that Atlanta was an ideal locale for the Civil Rights Game and its related events.
"Atlanta is really a perfect place for this -- given its history in the Civil Rights Movement, everything that has happened here, this is extremely meaningful," Selig told MLB.com. "That is why the [Civil Rights Game] is here, and why it will be here next year, too."
Hank Aaron, a close friend of Selig's, was honored Saturday night at the Beacon Awards dinner.
"We had a nice long visit already," Selig said. "That's one of the reasons we're here in Atlanta is because of Henry. That's maybe the most important reason."
The Civil Rights Game is Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET, with the Atlanta Braves playing the Philadelphia Phillies. For the Commissioner, the Civil Rights Game and the activities leading up to it have become an integral part of the baseball calendar.
"I love the Civil Rights weekend. It's so meaningful," Selig said. "If you relate it back to Jackie Robinson and his coming to the big leagues on Apr. 15, 1947, I've often said that was the most powerful and important event in baseball history. And as it turns out, it was one of the most powerful and important moments in the 20th century. So here we are celebrating that, celebrating everything that's happened since then, and trying to do better in this area.
"I've often said that baseball is a social institution, and it has really important social responsibilities. I really believe that in every way. This event symbolizes what we should do, and frankly, what we want to do more of. It's really a most important weekend for Major League Baseball.
"I hope that by all the events that we're doing, that we're going to attract more young people. They have a great history here and a wonderful heritage, and a weekend like this really symbolizes all that. So I hope we're sending the right message."
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.