It’s A Myth Black Kids Do Play Baseball
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
I love it. A friend of mine that I have known since kindergarten has a son that is a student and playing baseball for Clark Atlanta University, right now.
That’s good to know. Please send me this young man’s name and I will be sure to report on his progress next season.
Good Article, Mr. Harvey,
When I was a kid living in Tuskegee, AL we had Little League, Babe Ruth and Pony League Baseball teams. That made me continue playing baseball in high school and college. I was a good ball player but not great. I wasn’t a slouch either.
As time went on I begin to see how cuts in funding affected these Summer Youth Leagues. This happened in several cities around the country over the years.
I am of the opinion the reason we don’t see Black American baseball players in the major leagues like we use to, is black youth baseball leagues have become extinct over the past 30 years or so. Yes, there are players of color that play baseball in the major leagues but, most of them are from South America.
Over the past 20 years young black kids have developed the notion that Baseball is not cool, because it does not relate to “Hip Hop” as Football and Basketball does. I have heard young kids tell me the game is too slow and boring. My reply is “play the game and make it interesting, bring and add your own flavor to it.
The black community and organizations should do more volunteering to help at-risk youth, kids play and learn from sports. Kids for example in Chicago the “Jackie Robinson West Little League” Baseball team their playing baseball each summer and winning titles, have helped show the city in a different light. Even though Chicago is known for high it’s high murder rate, that team has changed perceptions.
I would like to see the fraternities and sororities (The Divine Nine) around the country, fund youth baseball leagues in their communities. The local governments will no longer do it. My hat is off to “Snoop Dog” he funds youth football leagues in his community.
We all know the Fraternities and Sororities sponsor various youth projects, but wouldn’t it be nice if the “Divine Nine” develop yearly fund raising and sponsorship’s for youth baseball teams in their communities around the country? These teams could play each other and other teams in the surrounding areas outside of their league. I think that will be a start. Just my 2 cents.
Bill, thanks for your important comment. In 1971 I played for Coach Sharp on the Tuskegee Semi-pro team.In 1976 or ’77 I played on the Tuskegee Colts team.There has always been some good youth league baseball played in East Alabama. I recall the teams from Opelika, Phenix City and Roanoke to be very competitive. I think you are absolutely correct on your idea of funding youth league baseball. The group sponsoring MVP is a completely volunteer organization.I like your idea about finding creative ways to fund youth league baseball by involving community organization. One other source of revenue is a small donation from the 68 Black American players in the Major Leagues. If they gave a tax deductible donation of $1000 annually, that would raise $68,000.00. A lot can be done with only $68,000.00. We have to keep talking it up until the community comes together to solve this social problem.
I am a Caucasian father of two African American boys both adopted at ages 4 and 5. I have exposed them to all sports and baseball has stuck for both of them. My oldest son participated with Team Florida this weekend and has played with P.R.O. Youth Foundation throughout the summer another primarily minority organization based in St. Pete. I have been really pleased with the experience and the exposure to players and coaches who look and play like him. Prior to this experience he refused to even consider attending a HBCU choosing only to look at PWI’s. I think the combination of seeing white faces at home and the lack of exposure to other black baseball players caused him to be intimidated. I now think that he is willing to consider all schools after having this unique experience.
Rich, I enjoyed watching your son compete this weekend. I certainly hope that he will give serious consideration to an HBCU. There is a fine educational experience awaiting him if he chooses to attend one of them. I am of course a little bias, as I played collegiately at Tuskegee University.
[…] It’s a Myth-Black Kids Do Play Baseball […]
Yes, they do.
Yes, they do.