Unique Baseball Tournament Serves As Outreach To Inner City Youth

The NCAA and Major League Baseball come to Houston to host the 2012 urban invitational this weekend. The annual round-robin tournament is designed to bring exposure to some of the country's best baseball programs at historically black colleges and universities.

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The tournament is being played this weekend at Minute Maid Park and Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park in North Houston.

The Houston state representative says he’s glad that the community is able to participate and be a part of the games.

“Part of the academy being here, is to groom young players, so that we’ll see them more in college on the collegiate level, and then see more in the professional levels. We want to see more homegrown players coming from our communities, coming from our neighborhoods, playing in high school, and then going on to college nationally, and then playing in the professional baseball league.”

The Urban Invitational features five historically black colleges and universities,  teh first ever in the tournament’s five year
history. The games are being played for the first time at a Major League stadium.

Jimmie Lee Solomon is executive VP of Baseball Development for Major League Baseball. He says kids coming to the tournament will leave with pleasant memories.

“For them to come into a major league setting, watching a great baseball game, but also to be educated on what they need to do to go to college is a tremendous tribute to what the Astros are doing here, what the new ownership group is doing when they come in, and it gives kids the opportunity to kind of pair baseball with fun entertainment and education.”

George Postolos is president and CEO of the Houston Astros.

“We’re just thrilled, really proud to be part of Major League Baseball, and their effort to grow the sport, and get these great athletes at these historically African American colleges to participate in baseball at a higher level, and there’s a huge effort that’s been made by the Commissioner. And we’re just thrilled to be a part of it, and this is the first time we’ve been able to host this event.”

Southern beat Prairie View A&M in the first game, and Coach Roger Cador says the experience left an impression with his

“It means a great deal, because as I mentioned to them on yesterday, there’ll be guys drafted, who’ll never play on a big league field. A lot of you guys will never be drafted, and you’re getting to play on a big league field. So it does have a lot of significance, in that they will always be able to tell their kids and grand kids, I played at Minute Maid Park in 2012.”

Proceeds from the tournament benefit the MLB Urban Youth Foundation.