NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg remembers what the Bronx became shortly after 1977, back in the years following the most recent Major League All-Star Game held at Yankee Stadium. Not two years removed from opening their newly renovated Stadium, team and city officials watched as the area surrounding the park fell onto hard times.
"It became the poster child of urban decay," Bloomberg said. "But not anymore. Today, it really is a showcase for what cities can become. The Bronx is back, and we're all excited about that."
Determined not to let those struggles resurface, the Yankees and the city of New York are continuing their work to improve the Bronx, with this summer's All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium playing a significant role. The team and Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that they will jointly donate $7 million worth of All-Star Game proceeds to local and national charities.
Proceeds will come from the Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, a batting practice session held on Monday, July 14, the day before the All-Star Game hits town. And the money will help fund a number of charities, some of them located within blocks of Yankee Stadium.
"That really is going to make a big difference in the Bronx here," Bloomberg said. "The Bronx has just undergone an amazing renovation -- a coming out of the ashes. We all remember [broadcaster] Howard Cosell talking about the Bronx burning, and today the Bronx is building. It is a wonderful place to live. Crime is down and schools are better, and it's because of the Yankees and the people that live in this city."
Major League Baseball has partnered with All-Star host teams to make similar donations in each of the past 10 years, raising approximately $25 million for various charities in the process. Coupled with next year's opening of the new $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium, this year's funds should held further improve a continually evolving neighborhood.
"The money that the Yankees and Major League Baseball are donating to the city of the Bronx -- I think it's fitting," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "The Bronx has really improved throughout the years, even since I first came up. I think with the addition of a new stadium, they're really building up the area around it."
This year's funds will go to a number of local charities chosen by the Yankees, including the Grand Concourse Branch of the New York Public Library and the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, which is in the process of opening a new West Bronx Clubhouse for 1,500 area children. Also receiving money will be the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center and the Manhattan Youth Recreation Resources, which serves the lower Manhattan community most directly affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
And all the money should combine to put a different sort of spin on this year's game.
"The New York Yankees have been, and are committed to being, an active participant in the improvement of our community," team president Randy Levine said. "We really work hard at it."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.