MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams views the annual Civil Rights game as more than a spring-ending exhibition with a reflection on historical significance.
He see it as an opportunity to mark the struggles of the past and continue efforts to strive for equality.
``Anytime you can bring attention to a part of our society that needs improvement, and you have a chance to make things better as a result of your participation, you can only be supportive of it,'' said Williams, who is black.
With an overtone of history, the New York Mets defeated the White Sox 3-2 on Saturday, closing out their preseason in the Civil Rights Game.
Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer for the Mets. John Maine put the finishing touches on a successful spring with four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and walking none while striking out five.
White Sox starter Jose Contreras went 6 2-3 innings, allowing two earned runs and five hits with six strikeouts.
Both teams open the regular season on Monday, the Mets at the Florida Marlins, while the White Sox travel to Cleveland.
The game, played under overcast skies and an early shower, culminated two days of festivities recognizing a significant time in the country's social history and baseball's role in that change.
Grammy-award artist BeBe Winans sang ``I Have A Dream'' with a local gospel choir and later the National Anthem. There were pre-game ceremonies honoring actress Ruby Dean with the league's Beacon of Change award, Frank Robinson with the Beacon of Life honor and late publisher John H. Johnson was recognized with the Beacon of Hope award. Martin Luther King III threw out the ceremonial first pitch, while Hall of Famer Hank Aaron was featured in a video tribute.
AutoZone Park is only a short distance north of the National Civil Rights Museum, the former Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed 40 years ago.
``The game is an awareness of what happened in the past, not just to Martin Luther King, but in general,'' Mets infielder Damion Easley said.
Both teams toured the National Civil Rights Museum. Several players said they got chills standing in the room King exited before his assassination.
``It found myself yearning for more. I wanted to stay longer. It didn't seem like it was long enough,'' Easley said. ``I felt like a sponge. All the information I got, I wanted more.''
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen called the experience ``awesome,'' and wished the team had more time to appreciate the exhibits when they toured the museum Saturday morning. As for standing in the spot of King's death, ``you kind of feel freaky about it.''
Notes: Both teams wore retro jerseys with block letters and without names on the back. ...Mets pitchers Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez, who are expected to start the opening two games of the season in Florida next week, did not make the trip. ...The Mets will make their final cuts to reach the 25-man roster on Sunday.
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