On Thursday, the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota, hosted a unique opportunity for Academy participants and just keep livin’ foundation students from L.G. Pinkston High School to learn more about the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson.
Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields and former Rangers pitcher and current Special Assistant to the General Manager Darren Oliver were on hand to participate in a panel about Robinson and his legacy.
“If you’re going to get involved in a sport, you should know the history and know who came before you,” DeShields said. “This is a unique thing.”
The Rangers were joined on the panel by Emmy Nominated Director Lauren Meyer, whose new film The Other Boys of Summer, was also screened at the event.
Through the lives of the Negro League baseball players, The Other Boys of Summer explores civil rights in America. The film features never-before-seen interviews with the trailblazers who played alongside Robinson and changed baseball and America forever.
Across Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson Day ceremonies were held on April 15, marking the 72nd anniversary of Robinson’s historic debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Academy athletes were on hand at Globe Life Park to participate, wearing #42 jerseys and lining up with the Rangers players and coaches during the playing of the National Anthem. And Academy participant Joshua Marcellus threw out a first pitch for the occasion.
Catcher Melanie Henderson-Lopez and shortstop Erin Ledesma are set to take their talents to the Kansas City Urban youth Academy next month, where the two will represent the Rangers Academy at the 2109 USA Softball Breakthrough Series from May 23-27.
For Henderson-Lopez, it will mark a return trip to the Breakthrough Series, as she traveled to the Compton Youth Academy for the event last summer.
"’m excited about going back,” Henderson-Lopez said. “I was asking all the girls that went last to see who would be there again.”
This time, Henderson-Lopez will be traveling with a friend from the Academy. Erin Ledesma, who attends Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School and plays softball for Sunset High School, was also selected.
"I’m excited to learn new softball techniques from coaches and former softball athletes. I'm also excited to make new relationships with softball girls around the U.S.,” Ledesma said.
The Breakthrough Series is a showcase style event aiming to provide instruction, mentorship, and access to collegiate softball opportunities for student athletes.
Both Henderson and Ledesma represented the Academy around the country in 2018, including traveling to the USA Softball Elite Development Invitational, playing on the Academy’s team in the Jennie Finch Classic during the 2018 All-Star Game festivities, and the Rangers Academy RBI All-Star team at the RBI Southwest Regionals.
“It's an honor to be able to go with her. She is an amazing player and knowing MLB selected me to go with her is very exciting,” Ledesma said of playing with her Rangers Academy teammate.
Henderson-Lopez echoed those sentiments.
"It’s going to be such a great time! We already get along well and we are just going to have a closer bond.”
On the baseball side, Duncanville High School junior Ricky Rangel and Sachse High School junior Joshua Marcellus were invited to participate in the MLB/USA Baseball Breakthrough Series in Compton, Calif. at the Compton Youth Academy from June 21 to 23.
Rangel, a shortstop and pitcher, was a member of the Rangers Academy team that traveled to Washington D.C. in July to participate in the Commissioner’s Cup series as part of 2018 All-Star Week festivities. He also earned a spot on the Rangers Academy RBI All-Star team that traveled to the 2018 RBI Southwest Regionals in Austin.
Marcellus, an outfielder, also represented the Academy at the RBI Southwest Regionals.
It will be the first Breakthrough Series experience for both baseball players.
High School Schedules
The regular season schedule is wrapping up for L.G. Pinkston High School and Sunset High School baseball teams, which call the Academy home all season.
The Pinkston Junior Vikings will host Greiner Middle School today, Friday, April 19.
Pinkston softball wrapped up its home slate of games on Thursday, April 18 against North Dallas.
Pinkston High School baseball and softball teams call the Academy home again in 2019. The facility also supports scheduling for David W. Carter High School and Sunset High School Baseball, in addition to Pinkston Middle School Softball. Various other Dallas ISD games and tournaments are played at the Academy throughout the year, too.
_Spring Camp _
Through five weeks of the Academy’s Spring Training Programming, over 200 athletes have participated.
Spring Programming will be held for 18U on Mondays and Wednesdays, while training for 12U will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Activities are from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Programming runs through May 2, and registration is available at rangers.com/academy.
RBI On Deck
The 2019 Texas Rangers Youth Academy RBI Summer League gets underway next month. Softball and baseball players who participate in the RBI program also have the opportunity to work towards trying out to become Academy RBI All-Stars, traveling to represent the Academy in the RBI Southwest Regional and potentially beyond.