Baseball Returns to Wilberforce University For First Time Since 1940

Wilberforce University announced it will be bringing its baseball program back. Collegiate baseball has not been played on the Wilberforce, Ohio campus since 1940. On Tuesday, the school announced that its Historically Black College and University (HBCU) baseball program will be revived after more than 80 years of being inactive with an assist from Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds.

The collaboration between the Reds, the Ohio Governor’s Office, and the school is part of arrangement officials believe will improve participation and boost diversity in baseball as the announcement calls for the return of baseball back to Wilberforce in fall 2022.

The Cincinnati Reds organization has also been a leader in Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities for the youth baseball program.

The youth initiative provides young people from underserved and diverse communities with opportunities to play baseball. Officials hope this would continue their efforts to improve participation and diversity in baseball.

The exciting news will also extend off the diamond. The partnership between Wilberforce and the Reds provides an opportunity for students to link with the Reds organization to learn the management side of baseball’s front office.

It’s not surprising to learn that Wilberforce is resurrecting baseball, providing kids a chance to prolong their dream for a few more years who probably wouldn’t have had that opportunity anywhere else. It also attracts new students through sports.

A big thank you goes to the Reds Community Fund (RCF), dedicated to improving the lives of youth by leveraging the tradition of the Cincinnati Reds and the game of baseball. Since its inception in 2007, the Community Fund and the Reds RBI program are dedicated to improving the lives of youth through its baseball-themed outreach efforts.

The Cincinnati MLB Youth Academy offers a year-round baseball training facility for ages 4-18 residing primarily in Greater Cincinnati and now with Wilberforce University and the surrounding urban neighborhoods.

I have spent the last twenty years writing for collegiate baseball, mainly for HBCU baseball (Black College Baseball and Black College Nines) as a side project. I noticed a lack of budgeting and proper funding of HBCUs.

It can attribute to HBCU athletic departments and their administrations not funding or budgeting the baseball programs nationally.

HBCUs have always had an awkward relationship with their baseball programs. When it comes to HBCUs, baseball isn’t a glorified sport viewed the same way the three glamour sports of football, basketball, and HBCU marching band are.

HBCUs are either cutting baseball or baseball is underfunded at their university or colleges, usually treating baseball as a second-class citizen. It was a pleasant surprise for Wilberforce to return baseball and put money into a well-funded program when they start their season.

As a former student who attended Wilberforce in the 1980s, I walked over to Central State University right across the street off Route 42. I stood on its old baseball field then decided to transfer to Edward Waters College and made the baseball team as a three-year walk-on after one year of being on the Wilberforce Bulldog’s tennis team.

The connection between Wilberforce and the Reds is the same commitment the Xavier University of Louisiana achieved through the New Orleans Youth Academy owned by the MLB. Xavier uses MLB Urban Youth Academy at Wesley Barrow Stadium for practices and games.

A similar proposition will now include Wilberforce through the Youth Academy in Cincinnati’s Roselawn neighborhood. Wilberforce will have access to the facilities, and the Reds also will work with the university to create opportunities for students as interns.

Now only two universities in the country can call an MLB facility its home. They happen to be HBCUs.

The Bulldogs will compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

1 comment for “Baseball Returns to Wilberforce University For First Time Since 1940

  1. Very happy to hear this. A lot of my family from Indiana and Chicago went there. Uncles played there back in the day. I hope all HBCUs get baseball

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