In Search of Black Baseball Players

July 12, 2019 0 By Michael
A bang-bang play at second gets the 2019 MVP Baseball Classic off to a bang. Photo (c) 2019 Harold Michael Harvey

The 15th annual MVP (Mentoring Viable Prospects) Baseball Classic got underway with a bang in Dekalb County, Georgia on Thursday, July 11, 2019, at the Georgia State University Baseball Complex.

MVP has become a gateway to collegiate baseball scholarships and professional baseball contracts for Black athletes throughout the country.

This year like previous years a bevy of Division 1 HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) coaches were in the Georgia State Stadium assessing the talent on the field.

On day one, other than Claflin University’s James Randall, none of the coaches from the smaller Division 1 schools were in attendance. The fact that Division 1 coaches were out in large numbers speaks volumes about the impact of the MVP Baseball Classic.

Black College baseball coaches in attendance at the MVP Baseball Classic. From L-R Keith Shumate, Norfolk State, Jose Vazquez, Alabama State, Drew Clark, Alabama State and Ben Hall, North Carolina A&T. Omar Johnson, Jackson State was also in attendance but not shown on this picture. Photo (c) 2019 Harold Michael Harvey

Not only are Division 1 HBCU coaches taking notice of the talent on display, but Division 1 powerhouses like the University of Michigan (runner-up in the 2019 College World Series) had four players from the Chicago team who have competed in the MVP Baseball Classic this decade.

In addition to the four kids at Michigan, Robert Flecther, coach of the Chicago team said, eight former members of his team who have played in the MVP competed in the NCAA regional baseball tournaments this season.

A rare sight on display at the MVP Baseball Classic, a southpaw throwing strikes with bite. Photo (c) Harold Michael Harvey

More than six Major League Baseball franchises had scouts on hand with their radar guns in hand keeping track of the velocity coming from the pitchers on the mound.

In the first-day action, Flecther’s Chicago team shut-out Melvin Upton’s (Father of the Upton brothers), Tidewater Virginia club 3-0. While North Carolina defeated Detroit in a competitive contest 6-5. In a matchup between Chip Lawrence’s Florida squad and the Bros out of Louisiana, Florida won 8-6. In the nightcap, the host Atlanta team held off a talented California team 7-3.

Another rare sight on the major league baseball scene is a Black battery was on display at the 2019 MVP Baseball Classic. Photo (c) 2019 Harold Michael Harvey

The three-day classic runs through Saturday. It culminates with a banquet where the aspiring baseball players will gain inside knowledge about what it takes to make it as a professional baseball player from among others, former Jackson State University, and professional baseball pitcher Marvin Freeman, one of the premier pitching instructors in the country.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. Harvey is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received because of his pro bono representation of students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s.  He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. Contact him at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com.