MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL URBAN YOUTH ACADEMY TO HOST FIRST URBAN INVITATIONAL BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
Tournament Featuring Teams From Division I Schools and Historically Black Colleges and Universities Major League Baseball today announced that the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy will host its first Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament from February 29 – March 2. Two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Bethune-Cookman University (Daytona Beach, FL) and Southern University (Baton Rouge, LA), will face off against collegiate baseball powerhouses UCLA and USC. The participation of HBCUs in the Urban Invitational is part of MLB’s ongoing diversity and youth initiatives.
“The Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament is a part of our continued focus on reviving the majesty of baseball in the African American community,” said Major League Baseball Executive Vice President of Operations Jimmie Lee Solomon. “This tournament, along with the other programs at the MLB Urban Youth Academy, the Civil Rights Game and many of our other efforts, is reflective of the League’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and engagement of our nation’s young people. Our goal is to make sure that every child who wants to play baseball has an opportunity to do so.”
Tournament games will be played at the MLB Urban Youth Academy, USC’s Dedeaux Field and UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium beginning Friday, February 29 and continuing through Sunday, March 2. Both games on Saturday, March 1, 2008, will be played at the MLB Urban Youth Academy and broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans attending on that day will also be entertained by a live performance of Southern University’s, “Human Jukebox” and USC’s Trojan Marching Band, as they bring their unique musical performances to Compton, California. Bethune-Cookman University and Southern University baseball teams will square off against each other at 1:00 P.M. (PST) on Sunday at the Academy.
“ESPN is proud to be associated with Major League Baseball’s urban initiatives,” said Len DeLuca, ESPN Senior Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions. “The second Civil Rights Game and new Urban Invitational — 40 years since the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — are on the heels of our observance last year of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. ESPN is honored to join with MLB to celebrate baseball’s cultural history.”
Tickets to the games being played at the MLB Urban Youth Academy will be available for purchase on game day for $5.00. Proceeds from the ticket sale will benefit the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy, which is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.
“On behalf of our team, I would like to say how honored we are to have been invited to an event like this, especially in its first year,” said Bethune-Cookman Coach Mervyl Melendez. “We hope that the Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament continues to grow and more people notice what Major League Baseball is doing for college baseball and Historically Black Colleges.” “Our program is very excited to represent UCLA in the tournament at the MLB Academy,” said UCLA coach John Savage. “We are honored to be able to play in the inaugural event. Our players are looking forward to the exciting weekend of baseball.”
Major League Baseball is committed to addressing the issue of African American participation in professional baseball. Through Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and the establishment of the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California, MLB has pledged its resources to bringing urban youth back to America’s pastime. The inaugural Civil Rights Game in 2007 also reinforced the League’s dedication by paying tribute to legendary African-American players who broke barriers and made important contributions to American society.
HBCUs have long offered quality education and athletic programs and have a proud tradition of outstanding baseball players. Hall of Famer Lou Brock, former most valuable player Andre Dawson and current Milwaukee Brewers star Rickie Weeks, all rose from HBCUs. Twelve HBCU players were selected in the MLB 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Through the annual Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament, MLB hopes to help these programs revitalize baseball in the African American community.
The MLB Urban Youth Baseball Academy encompasses more than 15 acres on the campus of El Camino College, Compton Center, the Academy is a state-of-the-art facility featuring four fields including a show field, batting cages and other training facilities. The Academy operates on a year-round basis, offering free baseball and softball instruction, as well as clinics to youth throughout Southern California
Game Schedule (all times Pacific):
1. Friday, February 29, UCLA vs. Southern University, 6PM at UCLA
2. Friday, February 29, USC vs. Bethune-Cookman, 6PM at USC
3. Saturday, March 1, UCLA vs. Bethune-Cookman, 5PM at MLB Urban Youth Academy
*Battle of the Bands – Southern’s “Human Jukebox” and USC Trojan Marching Band
4. Saturday, March 1, Southern vs. USC, 8PM at MLB Urban Youth Academy
5. Sunday, March 2, Southern vs. Bethune-Cookman, 1PM at MLB Urban Youth Academy
6. Sunday, March 2, USC hosts UCLA, 1PM at USC
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