The New Orleans MLB Youth Academy, which is operated by Major League Baseball, and Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA), a Historically Black College & University (HBCU) in New Orleans, have partnered to help launch the university’s 2021 baseball and softball seasons in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). This season marks the first-time baseball will be offered at Xavier since 1960, and the first-ever softball program in school history.
As part of the agreement, both programs will receive full access for games and practices to the facilities at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy, including Wesley Barrow Stadium, the artificial turf softball field, indoor/outdoor bullpens and batting cages, and the 200-square-foot climate-controlled press box. The teams are scheduled to play their first home games at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy on Tuesday, February 23rd (baseball) and Saturday, February 27th (softball), respectively. As a further connection between the school and their new home facility, the baseball team will feature 10 alumni of the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy suiting up for the Gold.
“Xavier University of Louisiana is grateful for this partnership with Major League Baseball and the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy to provide our teams full access to Wesley Barrow Stadium,” said Jason Horn, XULA assistant vice president for student affairs/director of athletics & recreation. “This facility access is critical and beneficial to Xavier’s relaunch of baseball and our debut softball season. Like the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy, Xavier is committed to increased participation in baseball and softball.”
“Since opening in 2012, our Youth Academy in New Orleans has been a beacon for baseball and softball for the city and throughout Southern Louisiana,” said Tony Reagins, Chief Baseball Development Officer at Major League Baseball. “Our partnership with XULA is a signal of progress and indicative of how the sports have been rejuvenated in a big way within this region. The New Orleans MLB Youth Academy is proud to be the home of Xavier University baseball and softball, and we wish them well this season.”
Prior to the suspension of all sports programs at Xavier in 1960, the baseball program featured notable players, including RHP Earl McCree who became a member of the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro American League. His manager and teammate was Negro Leagues Legend Buck O'Neil. XULA athletic teams have a rich tradition, winning nearly 150 team championships at regional, conference and district levels and producing many All-America athletes.
Xavier was founded by Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and opened its doors in 1925. XULA’s ultimate purpose is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society.
The New Orleans MLB Youth Academy provides free or low-cost baseball and softball instruction as well as programming to youth from New Orleans and throughout Southern Louisiana. Programs like Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and development experiences – such as the Breakthrough Series, DREAM Series, Hank Aaron Invitational and Elite Development Invitational – are all available to Academy members. The Youth Academy also provides vocational opportunities for its youth participants, notably a Sports Law program with Tulane University as well as a robust Jr. Broadcasting program. The Academy has hosted a number of special events over the years, including the Andre Dawson Classic, PLAY BALL events, Pitch, Hit & Run competitions, and the annual SWAC Baseball Tournament.
The New Orleans MLB Youth Academy is part of a network of Youth Academies located throughout the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. All facilities provide similar baseball, softball, educational and sports-related vocational programming. The 11 operational facilities in the MLB Youth Academy network across the United States and Puerto Rico include the Bronx (N.Y.), Chicago, Cincinnati, Compton, Dallas, Gurabo (Puerto Rico), Houston, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.