02/28/2006 6:01 PM ET
MLB opens first Baseball Youth Academy in Compton, Calif.
State-of-the-art facility offers free baseball and softball instruction to local youth
COMPTON, Calif. -- Major League Baseball, as part of its Urban Youth Initiative, opened the first-ever Youth Baseball Academy, providing free baseball and softball instruction to Southern California youth, ages 8-17, it was announced today by Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig.
Encompassing 10 acres on the campus of Compton Community College, in Compton, Calif., the MLB Urban Youth Baseball Academy features state-of-the-art facilities including a show field; complete with scoreboard, a grandstand that seats nearly 200 fans, dugouts and lights; as well as an auxiliary field; softball field; youth field; and a 12,000 square foot clubhouse consisting of a weight room, locker room, and other training facilities. The complex also features batting cages and pitching mounds.
The Academy will operate on a year-round basis under the leadership of former California Angel Darrell Miller. An after-school program, week-long clinics accommodating approximately 200 youth per day will be held, as well as month-long clinics. Over the course of the first year of operation, the Academy expects to offer the free program to a minimum of 2,500 youth.
Working in cooperation with local schools, including the Compton Unified School District, as well as various chapters of the Boys & Girls Club of America, and the Department of Parks & Recreation, the Academy will select recommended participants from throughout Southern California, primarily servicing youth from Compton, Carson, Paramount, Dominguez Hills, Lynwood, North Long Beach, and South Los Angeles, among others.
"The opening of the Baseball Academy in Compton is an important and historic development for Major League Baseball," said Commissioner Selig. "There is nothing we value more than increasing interest and participation in baseball among the youth of our country, particularly among those who live in the inner-cities. We in Major League Baseball recognize our role and responsibility as a social institution, and if we are going to meet the expectations of our fans in this area of diversity and equality, this platform - the Baseball Youth Academy - is a very significant step."
In addition to baseball and softball instruction, boys and girls attending the MLB Urban Youth Academy will be given the opportunity to participate in free seminars on umpiring, athletic turf grass and field management, scouting and player development, sports and broadcast journalism, public relations and statistics, as well as athletic sports training. The Academy also will utilize the Compton Community College classrooms and computer rooms, where participants will be provided with tutoring and homework help.
Other programs and services to be offered in the future include a Baseball Career Development Program, geared toward teens and focusing on sports vocations with an emphasis on baseball, as well as "Play Fair," a unique curriculum that incorporates steroid prevention, fair play and sportsmanship, "Red Ribbon Training," a prevention and education program that addresses the problems of drug and alcohol abuse, coaches clinics, and participation in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series.
"The Youth Baseball Academy will serve as a sanctuary for kids interested not only in how the game is played but how the game can be a positive and productive part of their lives," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations. "The Compton academy is part of Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Initiative, which is an ambitious and important project that is designed to grow the game and to help inner city kids make better lives for themselves."
Special events at the facility will include the first-ever West Coast Major League Baseball Umpire Development Training Camp, which will include two, one-week camps, Nov. 5-12 and 12-19th, under the direction of MLB supervising umpire Rich Rieker. The camps are being held in conjunction with the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation, The Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring, and The Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School.
Future plans at the Academy include the formation and development of a rookie league, and internship opportunities with Major League and Minor League Baseball teams in Southern California. The Academy also looks to provide transportation services from local school sites to the facility, and hopes to institute satellite programs that will be offered throughout Los Angeles.
The MLB Urban Youth Baseball Academy also benefits Compton Community College by hosting the baseball team's home games, beginning March 3. Plans also are in the works for additional clinics, including those from local high schools, as well as tournaments and league play, which will start in the spring.
Major League Baseball broke ground on the $10 million facility in June 2003. More than 55% of the contractors, subcontractors and vendors hired to build the MLB Urban Youth Baseball Academy are qualified MBE/DBE/WBE - minority and locally-owned contractors. The Academy is a California non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. Supporters include the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Houston Astros, Rawlings, Chevrolet, Pepsi, and Gatorade. An annual golf tournament, the first to be held Friday, Nov. 3, 2006 at Pacific Palms Conference Resort, located in City of Industry, Calif., will benefit the Academy.
In addition to its Director, Darrell Miller, Academy staff will consist of former major and minor league players, including Lorenzo Gray (former Chicago White Sox), and Carl Nichols (Houston Astros). Additional instructors, collegiate coaches, scouts, and certified athletic trainers also will participate in the Academy.
The MLB Urban Youth Baseball Academy is part of Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Initiative. The purpose of the initiative is four-fold: 1) to grow the game of baseball while, at the same time, cultivating diversity in all aspects of the game; 2) to make meaningful contributions to the development of minority communities; 3) to provide safe, organized recreational activities for urban youth; and 4) to prepare minority high school players for college and professional baseball and softball programs.
Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) was developed by former Major League Baseball player and scout John Young. Currently starting its 18th season, RBI was initially developed to provide disadvantaged children in South Los Angeles with the opportunity to learn about and enjoy the game of baseball. The RBI concept has since developed into a comprehensive youth baseball program, designed for ages 13-16 years old.
Major League Baseball funds the program, which has grown to an international campaign, encompassing more than 200 cities and 95,000 players. The 2006 RBI World Series will take place in August at the Urban Youth Baseball Academy, now designated as the permanent home for this event
Sponsorship opportunities at the Urban Youth Baseball Academy are available. For additional information about the MLB Urban Youth Baseball Academy, visit www.YouthBaseballAcademy.com.