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  • Writer's pictureKevin Scarbinsky

Baseball, community and Birmingham

A few thoughts on baseball, community and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Birmingham:

What does Jayla Montgomery want to be when she grows up? A TV sports reporter. The teenager works toward that goal in one of the many vocational programs at the Major League Baseball Youth Academy in New Orleans.

That program allowed her to spend a day last May working with the MLB Network, in front of and behind the camera, at a Yankees-Astros game in Houston.

Like Jayla, Will Spears, Mike Mims, Antoine Harris, Damon Fountain and Kiri Parker are members of the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy. They've spent years working on their games and their educations there.

Last November, their dedication was rewarded as those five young men all signed college baseball scholarships.

Major League Baseball wants to come to Birmingham to provide similar opportunities for young people in our area by building its latest MLB Youth Academy here. Here in the home of Hall of Famer Willie Mays and All-Star Bo Jackson, the Barons and the Black Barons, Regions Field and Rickwood Field.

Baseball and Birmingham go together like peanuts and Cracker Jack. America's Pastime is a proud part of this community's past, and it has a unique opportunity to contribute to its vibrant future.

There's no better way to continue the Magic City's momentum than partnering with a proven national organization eager to invest upwards of $10 million in our community, helping to set countless local dreams on the road to reality at historic George Ward Park.

MLB Youth Academies do so much more than teach baseball and softball skills. They offer educational and career programs in areas such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and the Science of Sport, Sports Law, SAT/ACT prep and beyond. They show our children that sports can be a path to a rewarding career on and off the field.

Major League Baseball and the City of Birmingham are thisclose to getting this win-win, once-in-a-lifetime deal done, but there's been pushback from some members of the Glen Iris neighborhood that seems born from a lack of understanding.

Hopefully, those residents will open their minds and realize that adding the MLB Youth Academy to George Ward Park won't displace any of the dog lovers, tennis players and disc golfers who frequent the park. New state-of-the-art facilities will only enhance the park, not envelop it. More children and families than ever will be able to make memories there.

Isn't that the very definition of community?



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