The MLB Urban Invitational Returning to New Orleans for the Second Consecutive Year
Every Game to be Played Exclusively in the "Creole City" for the First Time in Event's History / Event Will Include Appearances by Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and Jackie Robinson's Daughter, Sharon Robinson / Games on Saturday, February 21st will Air Live on Both MLB Network and MLB.com
The Major League Baseball Urban Invitational is returning to New Orleans for the second consecutive year, with every game, from Friday, February 20th through Sunday, February 22nd, scheduled to be played exclusively in the city for the first time in the event's history. In 2014, Louisiana State University hosted Urban Invitational games in Baton Rouge, with other games being held at the University of New Orleans and the New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy.
The round-robin collegiate baseball tournament, launched by Major League Baseball in 2008 to place an annual spotlight on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their baseball programs, will feature Division-I HBCUs Grambling State University (Grambling, Louisiana), Southern University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) and Alcorn State University (Alcorn, Mississippi), as well as the University of New Orleans. Six games will be played between the four schools, with the University of New Orleans hosting games on all three days. Special guest appearances throughout the weekend will include Hall of Famer Frank Robinson (MLB Senior Advisor and Honorary American League President) and Sharon Robinson (MLB Educational Programming Consultant, author and daughter of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson).
Saturday's contests at the University of New Orleans will air LIVE on both MLB Network and MLB.com, with play-by-play from Matt Yallof and analysis from former MLB outfielder and Louisiana native Darryl Hamilton.
In addition to games on Friday, February 20th and Sunday, February 22nd, the New Orleans MLB Urban Youth Academy in Pontchartrain Park will host a private youth baseball clinic on Saturday morning, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (CT). Players from each of the participating Urban Invitational teams will provide instruction to Urban Youth Academy participants and kids from local Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) programs.
A college and career fair will be held at the University of New Orleans from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Ten colleges and universities will be represented to provide attendees with information about college preparation, undergraduate/graduate degree programs, financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Local businesses also will be on hand to provide career advice and discuss potential job opportunities. High school and college students from areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are invited to attend at no charge
Also at the University of New Orleans, Sharon Robinson will meet with students (in grades 4-9) on Saturday, beginning at 10:00 a.m., to talk about her father and help them craft and edit their own essays for the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life essay contest. The Breaking Barriers Essay Contest is a chance for students across the U.S. and Canada, in grades 4-9, to write an essay about their personal stories of how they use Jackie Robinson's nine values to overcome their own barriers: Citizenship, Commitment, Courage, Determination, Excellence, Integrity, Justice, Persistence and Teamwork. The Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life program, in partnership between Major League Baseball and Scholastic, is generously supported by Church & Dwight, maker of Arm & Hammer and OxiClean products.
"The Urban Invitational is an extraordinary event that not only highlights the quality of HBCU baseball, but also the character of these young men who participate," said Sharon Robinson. "As an alumna of an HBCU [Howard University], I am excited to join in the recognition of these wonderful academic institutions in all that they do to shape the leaders of tomorrow."
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 Seattle Mariners infielder Rickie Weeks (Southern University) played in HBCU baseball programs. Since 2008, the year of the inaugural Urban Invitational, 20 HBCU athletes who have played in the tournament have been selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. Four tournament alumni were taken in the 2014 Draft, including Emmanuel Marrero, an Alabama State University alumnus, who was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the seventh round.
This will be Southern University's eighth Urban Invitational, making them the only school to have participated in every tournament. Grambling State will make its fourth appearance, the University of New Orleans will make its second appearance and Alcorn State University will be participating for the first time.
Local high school bands will have the opportunity to perform around Saturday's contests as the Landry-Walker High School band will perform the National Anthem prior to the first game (2:00 p.m.), while the band from St. Augustine High School will perform prior to the second game.
Complete Game Schedule (Central Time):
Friday, February 20, 3:00 p.m. @ New Orleans MLBUYA: Grambling State University vs. Southern University
Friday, February 20, 6:00 p.m. @ University of New Orleans (UNO): Alcorn State University at University of New Orleans
Saturday, February 21, 10:00 a.m. @ New Orleans MLBUYA: Private Youth Baseball Clinic for UYA and RBI participants
Saturday, February 21, 10:00 a.m. @ UNO: Sharon Robinson Breaking Barriers visit with local students
Saturday, February 21, 11:00 a.m. @ UNO: College & Career Fair
Saturday, February 21, 2:00 p.m. @ UNO: Alcorn State University vs. Grambling State University, (will air LIVE on MLB Network and MLB.com)
Saturday, February 21, TBD @ UNO: Southern University at University of New Orleans (will air LIVE on MLB Network and MLB.com)
Sunday, February 22, 1:00 p.m. @ New Orleans MLBUYA: Southern University vs. Alcorn State University
Sunday, February 22, 1:00 p.m. @ UNO: Grambling State University at University of New Orleans
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 four operating MLB Urban Youth Academies in Cincinnati (Ohio), Compton (California), Houston (Texas), and New Orleans (Louisiana), plus an Academy in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) that is currently under construction, MLB has continued to allot resources to bring America's pastime to young people in urban communities.