Benedict College Host 1st Black Baseball World Series
[COLUMBIA, SC] Benedict College has joined forces with the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League, Inc. (MJBL) once again to reveal how historically black colleges and universities baseball programs must be in the forefront in reviving African American interest and participation in the game of baseball.
July 29 - August 3, 2008 Benedict College played host to over 700 youth for the 18th Annual MJBL Inner City Classic and its annual Bobby Bonds Memorial Symposium. The symposium, now in its fifth year, provides practical approaches to reinstating baseball as a staple sport in the African American community. The symposium was held at 7:00 p.m. August 2, 2008 at the Charlie W. Johnson Stadium on the campus of Benedict College in Columbia, SC. Former N.Y. Mets All Star Mookie Wilson was the moderator. "There is a definite absence of African Americans in the game of baseball. Baseball just isn't being promoted in our communities. Our youth have to be exposed to baseball and this is one way we can provide them exposure," said Mookie.
The symposium's featured topic will be "How the Media Influences African American Interest and Participation in the Game of Baseball." The relevance of this topic became apparent during ESPN's Black History Month documentary "Say It Loud" with a large portion of the baseball segment filmed at last year's Classic at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama. However, ESPN failed to mention MJBL, Alabama State University or HBCU baseball while giving other entities and individuals credit for the events that were shown on that portion of the documentary. "Our youth need to have realistic, obtainable, goals set for them to strive for, which will build self esteem while playing the game. That is why we are offering the MJBL World Series that is being dubbed as The Black World Series'. Our youth should be seen playing baseball more than just on Black History Month and the media has a professional responsibility to provide factual information to lead their viewing audience to the programming source," said Ken Free, MJBL chairman of the board.
The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) has joined in with MJBL to ensure that every effort is being made to keep baseball as our national pastime. "Baseball is America's game and it is unfortunate that not all of America is currently playing it," says Geoff Hixson, Chief Operating Officer for the MLBPAA. Executive director for MJBL, William Forrester Jr., added, "We are extremely pleased MLBPAA has decided to join us. We decided last year during the Jackie Robinson 60 year anniversary of breaking the MLB color barrier that MJBL would have to do more to get our youth back in the game and bring our national pastime back to our communities. We want Rachael Robinson to know her plea for more to be done to bring African Americans back to the game has not fallen on deaf ears."
MJBL has now turned its 18- year- old invitational tournament to an all inclusive National Youth Baseball League geared toward bringing the game back to the African American community. MJBL has 14 states and Nassau Bahamas registered in this new league for youth ages 5-19. Each State will have its own State play-off with the champion, and perhaps the runner-up participating in the Classic and MJBL World Series for the 12 and under age group.