Richmond, VA. – Paine College will host the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League, Inc., (MJBL) 6th Annual East vs. West All Star Game in Augusta, Georgia. The games will be played during the MLK holiday weekend, January 18th and 19th, 2014.
MJBL is a 48 year old 501 (c) 3, African-American operated non-profit baseball league that has league members in 20 states and the Bahamas. Over 150 youth will come to Augusta to participate in the event. There will be 12 and under, 15 and under and 19 and under age divisions for the all-star game. Baseball was in the forefront of the civil rights movement. On a holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, it is only appropriate to have a baseball game played in his honor. The all star game is designed to afford our youth the opportunity to reflect upon the accomplishments of Dr. King, Jackie Robinson and the other civil rights pioneers.
A recent New York Times article mentioned that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had appointed Dave Dombrowski, the president of the Tigers to head up a task force to identify ways to get younger African-Americans interested in baseball. The committee is supposed to make formal recommendations on their findings this month. MJBL’s chairman of the board and former Commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (EIAC), Ken Free said: “I hope the committee will recognize the work MJBL has done developing African American youth through the game of baseball during the last six decades. If this all-star event being held during MLK holiday weekend isn’t on the committee’s radar and this concept isn't embraced as a significant step to connect with the African American community, then I would question the relevance of the committee.”
Paine College's baseball coach, Kirby Marshall expressed immediate interest in hosting the all star game. Also, the Bobby Bonds Memorial Symposium will be held on Paine College’s campus. The symposium is designed to address issues that face youth in African-American communities and discuss how baseball and education can be an integral part of the solution to these issues. Additionally, Georgia Regents University (GSU) athletic director Clint Bryant, extended similar hospitalities from GSU. High School age players will receive tours of both campuses and will be provided an opportunity to speak with guidance counselors to discuss the requirements to enroll at the four year universities.
Jimmy Williams, Maryland's MJBL State Commissioner, former Howard University Baseball Coach and former member of the Giants, Dodgers and Orioles’ organization said: “I’ve traveled the world playing baseball, including Japan where I was a member of the 1974 Central League World Series Champions Chunich Dragons squad. I know when someone is passionate about the game. A week out from the Polar Vortex in Chicago and Indianapolis, kids going out raising their own money to get here, that’s passion. Hopefully someone will see the value of this event and offset the expenses for these players in the near future.” Games will be played at Paine College, Georgia Regents University and Lucy Laney High School Athletic Complex. The championship games will be played at Lake Olmstead Stadium, the home of the San Francisco Giants single A team, the Augusta Greenjackets on Sunday starting at 11:30 am. T.W. Josey High School’s march band will perform during the championship games. The event is free and open to the general public.