Seeking to help bring awareness to HBCU baseball, the ATL Metro RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) board of directors recently voted to host a baseball showcase of high school talent in the metro Atlanta area.
Plans call for a 36 team three day tournament in mid-May. The tournament will guarantee each team four games. This will give each team and players a chance to adequately showcase the unique skills they bring to the game.
This year the ATL Metro RBI has secured its largest contribution to date from the Atlanta Braves Baseball Franchise. The Braves will outfit all 36 teams in the league, which will include a button down jersey and Atlanta Braves baseball cap. Although outfitted with the Braves logo, each team will sport a different color on its team jersey.
The Braves commitment to revitalizing baseball in the inner city comes to about $40,000 this year, up from $5,000 last year. The group is in negotiations with Major League Baseball to donate full catcher’s equipment to each of the 36 teams. Managers for each team will be required to return the equipment at the conclusion of each season.
The league will be comprised of three age groups, a 14 and under, 16 and under and an 18 and under division.
Plans call for the HBCU Showcase to be live streamed. This will enable college coaches who otherwise would not be able to attend this three day event to be able to evaluate the Black baseball talent in the Atlanta area.
Experts on NCAA compliance issues will hold workshops during the HBCU showcase to apprise parents and players of NCAA requirements for student athletes.
Long-time youth league baseball coach, Eugene Gardner will head up the committee organizing the HBCU Showcase.
“We will have good food in the concession stand, music and hopefully we can get the Braves to bring the Mascots out so the younger kids can have a little fun. We want this to be a family event,” Gardner said at a recent meeting of the board.
ATL Metro RBI’s board chairman, John Hollins understands the relationship between baseball and the value of an education. In his youth, Hollins was a flame throwing right handed pitcher (he consistently hit 91 on the radar gun), for the Georgia State University Panthers. Today he pitches advertisement to business clients for a local television station.
“We got to prepare these young guys for college and expose them to black college baseball as a route to get an education. If something else happens and they play pro baseball, that’s good too, but we want to get these guys into college,” Hollins, said.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at email@example.com