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“Grandmother of Juneteenth” Opal Lee to Announce “PLAY BALL!,” Special

“Battle of the Bands” Performance, and Divine Nine Unity Step Part of Event Highlights

Kirk Franklin Headlines Entertainment and Ceremonial Celebrations of the 2024 HBCU Swingman Classic

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NEWS SOURCE: Rogers & Cowan PR
July 1, 2024

Twenty-time Grammy-winning artist, producer, songwriter and music icon Kirk Franklin is headlining the entertainment and ceremonial celebrations of the 2024 “HBCU Swingman Classic presented by T-Mobile & powered by the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation”. Franklin and his gospel choir will perform both the U.S. National Anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” prior to the All-Star showcase of Division-I baseball athletes from Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). The game will be played on Friday, July 12th at Globe Life Field, beginning at 7:00 p.m. CT/8:00 p.m. ET, LIVE on MLB Network,,, and the MLB app.

Tickets for the HBCU Swingman Classic presented by T-Mobile are now on-sale at Proceeds from the sale of each ticket will benefit the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation (YDF), a joint initiative by MLB and MLBPA to support efforts that focus on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the United States and internationally.

Key Highlights of the Pre-, In-Game and Post-Game Elements Include:

  • Kirk Franklin – Franklin and his choir will perform both the U.S. National Anthem and “Life Every Voice and Sing” prior to the game.

  • National Pan-Hellenic “Divine Nine” Ring of Honor & Unity Step – During pregame ceremonies, 10 representatives from each of the “Divine Nine” Black Greek-letter organizations will surround the infield. Additionally, three representatives will perform on each dugout with a step routine that will feature individual customized performances, to be followed by a joint performance as a sign of unity and strength among the organizations.

  • Battle of the Bands” – HBCU culture will be present throughout the ballpark during the pregame, in-game and postgame with “Battle of the Bands” performances by Texas Southern’s “Ocean of Soul” and the Prairie View A&M’s “Marching Storm.”

  • Opal Lee & “PLAY BALL!” – Dr. Opal Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” will announce “Play Ball!” prior to the start of the game.

  • General Game Presentation:

    • In-ballpark DJ – DJ Blast – Divine Nine Fraternity Member, Dallas Native & 2023 HBCU Swingman DJ – will once again perform a set while gates are open until the pregame ceremonies begin. Additionally, DJ Blast will be featured in-game playing music reminiscent of The Divine Nine.

    • PA Announcer – Pinch-hitting for regular Rangers PA announcer Chuck Morgan is Marque Denmon, who is the SWAC Baseball Public Address Announcer.

    • Pregame In-ballpark Host – Chris Arnold – Dallas Mavericks Host & Emcee, Divine Nine Fraternity Member, and Texas Black Sports Hall of Famer – will serve as the pregame host within the ballpark.

**Additional details, including First Pitch Ceremony, Impact-focused programming such as HBCU Fair and more, will be announced at a later date**


For more info on Kirk Franklin, visit the JFH Artists Database.

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