Reds to host Civil Rights Games in 2009, '10

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Reds will host the majors' first two regular-season Civil Rights Games.

Major League Baseball made the announcement on Thursday at Great American Ball Park. The Reds' game against the Chicago White Sox on June 20 will serve as the first one to be held during the season, followed by another to be played in Cincinnati in 2010.

The first two Civil Rights Games, intended to raise awareness of the civil rights movement and baseball's part in it, were held before the season in Memphis, Tenn.

"When we went to Memphis, we always knew we'd grow this into a major league game," Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, said.

MLB started looking at potential sites in July and decided on Cincinnati in late August, Solomon said. One of the main reasons Cincinnati was chosen was the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which is located next door to the ballpark and was a major part of the Reds' presentation.

"It's pretty exciting that they're having the game here, especially when you've got the Freedom Center right next door and the history of the town," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who is black.