CHICAGO -- Rangers manager Ron Washington spent Saturday morning at Chicago's Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue for the Beacon Awards Luncheon as part of the events for Saturday's Civil Rights Game.
Among those at the event included Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson, former Tigers great Willie Horton and Bo Jackson, who received the Beacon of Life award. Legendary singer Aretha Franklin, who was unable to attend the luncheon due to health issues, received the Beacon of Change award.
"I loved it," Washington said afterward from U.S. Cellular Field. "It was quite an experience, being around those Hall of Famers and listening to the stories they tell."
The seventh annual Civil Rights Game is the highlight of a weekend-long tribute to all of those who fought on and off the field for equal rights for all Americans. Washington said Major League Baseball has done well in promoting the issues that many within the game experienced in the past.
"I think Major League Baseball has been doing a great job trying to put progress in, and here we are in a Civil Rights event and we are playing baseball," Washington said at the event. "It's something that I think everybody involved grew up loving and hoping that one day they could be a part of, and here I am a manager of a Major League club."
That club happens to have players from nine different countries, so Washington knows first-hand how the game has grown -- but also of the new challenges that face today's clubhouses.
"I think the biggest challenge is making them understand that we are a family, and a lot of times the way the game is constructed today, that they are here in a situation where all they have is each other and they have to get along," Washington said of managing players who come from so many different backgrounds. "And I think that we in Texas have done a good job doing that. That is the reason why we have such a vast culture on our team."
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.