The 2014 Urban Invitational will be held in Southern Louisiana, with games shared between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, for the first time in the event's history. The annual, round-robin collegiate baseball tournament, designed by Major League Baseball to place a spotlight on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their baseball programs, will feature returning Division-I HBCUs Grambling State University (Grambling, Louisiana) and Southern University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), plus Division-I programs Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) and the University of New Orleans (New Orleans, Louisiana).
The weekend will consist of six games played between the four schools and ancillary activities, from Friday, February 14th through Sunday, February 16th. Louisiana State University (LSU) will host games on Friday and Sunday, with the Sunday contests called live by Paul Severino, Darryl Hamilton and Joe Magrane on MLB Network. The fields at Southern University, New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy and Zephyr Field, home of the New Orleans Zephyrs, will also host games throughout the weekend. In addition to a game on Saturday, February 15th, the New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy will host a baseball clinic and a college & career fair. All ticketing, parking and additional information can be found at MLB.com/UrbanYouthAcademy.
"Collegiate baseball represents a significant element of the game's future, so it is important to give these programs the opportunity for exposure to a larger audience," said Frank Robinson, MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Development. "We are thrilled to host this year's Urban Invitational in Southern Louisiana, and thank all of our participating schools."
The baseball clinic on Saturday will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (CT) featuring players from each of the participating teams in the Urban Invitational who will provide instruction to New Orleans MLBUYA youth as well as boys and girls from local Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) programs.
The college and career fair will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (CT). Participating colleges and universities will provide attendees with information about college preparation, undergraduate and graduate degree programs, financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Local businesses will also be on hand to provide career advice and discuss potential job opportunities. High school and college students from the New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama region are invited to attend at no charge. Parking at the New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy is free for all events throughout the weekend.
Major League Baseball is dedicated to its ongoing diversity efforts, including the implementation of programs that make it easier for underserved and inner city youth to participate in baseball and softball. With three operating MLB Urban Youth Academies in Houston (Texas), Compton (California) and New Orleans (Louisiana), plus groundbreaking on sites in Cincinnati (Ohio) and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), and the announcement of an academy in Hialeah (Florida), MLB has continued to allot resources to bring America's pastime to young people in urban communities.
HBCUs have long offered quality educational and athletic programs and have a proud tradition of attracting outstanding baseball players. Baseball Hall of Famers Lou Brock (Southern University) and Andre Dawson (Florida A&M), as well as current Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks (Southern University) played in HBCU baseball programs. Since 2008, the year of the inaugural Urban Invitational, 16 HBCU athletes who have played in the tournament have been selected in the MLB Player Draft; most recently being Cory Jordan, a Grambling State University alumnus, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 35th round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft.
This will be Southern University's seventh Urban Invitational, making them the only school to have participated in every Urban Invitational. Grambling State will make its third appearance, while LSU and the University of New Orleans are each participating for the first time.
Complete Game Schedule (Central Time):
Friday, February 14, Grambling University at Southern University, 6:00 p.m. at Southern University
Friday, February 14, University of New Orleans vs. Louisiana State University, 7:00 p.m. at Louisiana State University
Saturday, February 15, Southern University vs. Grambling University, 1:00 p.m. at New Orleans MLBUYA
Saturday, February 15, Louisiana State University vs. University of New Orleans, 2:00 p.m. at Zephyr Field
Sunday, February 16, Southern University vs. University of New Orleans, 12:00 p.m. at Louisiana State University
Sunday, February 16, Grambling University vs. Louisiana State University, 4:00 p.m. at Louisiana State University