Executive Vice President of Baseball Development Frank Robinson believes that he has a gift for working with young people. At a Wednesday press conference he said that he enjoys doing it, and has done it most of his life. So it seems fitting that he was offered the opportunity to head up the MLB Urban Youth Academy.
Bud Selig announced not only the award of the 2015 All-Star Game to Cincinnati, but also took the opportunity to explain about the MLB Urban Youth Academy.
Bud Selig said that, “I’ve placed a priority on making sure that young people from all walks of life have opportunities to not only play baseball and softball, but also to achieve success in their academic pursuits. To that end, we opened the first MLB youth academy in Compton, California in 2006.”
Since that time, others were opened in Texas, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico, with new sites being developed in Pennsylvania, Florida, and now Cincinnati, Ohio through the Cincinnati Reds.
Bud Selig announced that, “the MLB is contributing $1,500,000 dollars to the development of the Reds Urban Youth Academy for Cincinnati, to be the future home of a MLB Urban Youth Academy.”
He added that the MLB is, “honored to make this commitment to the young people of Cincinnati and the surrounding areas to provide them with significant opportunities and new experiences on and off the field,” and that it will be modeled after the existing facilities.
Bud Selig explained that, “The MLB Urban Youth Academies are state of the art facilities designed for young people in urban and underserved areas to receive year-round free baseball and softball instruction uniquely. They also prioritize academics, and I want to really emphasize that, to ensure education, and as part of each participant’s future plan, will offer baseball vocation programs such as grounds keeper, umpire, journalism and many more.”
The collective successes of the Academies in California, Texas and Puerto Rico include the fact that they have reached, “more than 10 thousand young people. There have been nearly 350 academy student athletes that have gone on to participate in college baseball and softball, with many more attending college, most importantly, solely for the pursuit of their education.”
In terms of those who focus more on the competitive path of baseball, Bud Selig noted that, “Nearly 200 student athletes have been selected in the first year player draft, including almost 30 last year…I’ve often said that baseball is a social institution with enormous social responsibilities. I’ve often mentioned Jackie Robinson debuting for the Brooklyn Dodgers [which later became the Los Angeles Dodgers] on April 15, 1947 as baseball’s proudest and most important moment. Throughout his life, Jackie displayed strength and courage and fought for equality and opportunity in and out of our sport. We’re proud to have this academy be a part of what I believe is Jackie’s enduring legacy. One of Jackie’s goals after his Hall of Fame career was to see an African-American Manager in baseball, and I’m honored to have the man with the distinction of being the first as our Executive Vice President of Baseball Development Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who is now in charge of leading the future of the MLB Urban Youth Academy all over the continent.”
Frank Robinson says that to have this opportunity to build here in the Cincinnati is, “a real pleasure and it’s a real pleasure for me to be a part of it. This is something that the community can be very proud of [because] it gives the young people, and under privileged kids especially, an opportunity to prove their skills and learn to play baseball the right way. If they have the ability to make it to the major leagues one day, great!”
However, with the emphasis that the MLB Urban Youth Academy puts on education, they will get an opportunity to grow academically, too, which will give them the chance at a future of becoming more upwardly financially mobile.