Is it a myth, that Black kids are not playing baseball in sufficient numbers to field the rosters of college and professional teams?
The MVP program in Decatur, Georgia has been on a 14 year mission to not only disprove this myth, but provide a showcase for urban kids to display their baseball skills.
MVP is not an acronym for Most Valuable Player. It actually means, Mentoring Viable Prospects. For nearly a decade and a half, MVP has worked in the shadows of youth league baseball to give first class showcase experiences to inner-city teenagers.
They do not expect any media attention and seldom get it. When this writer approached the entrance gate today seeking press credentials to cover this year’s tournament, it caught the staff off guard.
“I didn’t know we had any media coverage,” one organizer of the event said as he excused himself to seek advice on whether to permit media coverage.
Their work is voluntary. It comes down to a the love for the game and a chance to help a youth league baseball player get the exposure that could land him a college scholarship or professional baseball contract. The kind of things that turns a young man’s life around.
One young man, Morris Kirkland, III from Northville, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, made good use of the MVP experience. While in Decatur this weekend, he toured the Morehouse College campus, took one look at the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. on campus and the Spelman girls across the way, then inked a scholarship to play baseball at the “House.”
Kirkland, a 6″2″ shortstop is showing his versatility this week by playing third base. He has the foot speed of a rangy shortstop and the arm strength to play both position.
Morris’ dad Reginald, an educational consultant, believes that Morris will top off at 6″5″ and will have to learn the third base position at some point in his baseball career.
“I came down here to play in MVP to get some experience and to see some college coaches,” Kirkland said.
On his choice of schools, the mass communication major added:
“I feel like Morehouse is a good fit for me to advance not only academically but in baseball; and I wanted to be around people like me.”
The MVP will crown a 2017 champion on Saturday, July 15. The action starts at 9am. This weekend is a good opportunity to see a large contingent of African Americans playing baseball, as their ranks tend to thin out at the college and professional ranks.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changers Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org