With the calendar turning to July, baseball fans turn their attention to the MLB All-Star festivities. San Diego, Calif., will host to the 87th MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 12. In addition to the dozens of big league stars who will be making the trip west, so too will a pair of Little League® teams who are part of the Little League Urban Initiative Program.
A Major Division baseball team from Douglass Little League in Indianapolis, Ind., and a Major Division softball team from Northside National Little League in Houston, Texas will be heading to San Diego to take part in the 2016 MLB All-Star Youth Classic, a friendly, weekend of competition consisting of more than 140 youth baseball and softball players.
Formerly known as the Jr. RBI Classic, the Youth Classic has been reformatted and renamed to include teams from various youth baseball and softball programs from across the country. The event will be held from July 8 to 11 at the Robb Field Complex at Ocean Beach in San Diego.
The squads from Indianapolis and Houston are two of 12 teams who will be participating, with others coming from California, New York, Mississippi, Tennessee, Rhode Island, and even Mexico. Both Little League programs involved are ecstatic for the opportunity.
“The kids are all very excited,” said Kelly Winston, Douglass Little League President. “We have 10 kids going, and I think only one of them has ever been on a plane before.”
Douglass Little League recently took part in the Central Region’s Urban Initiative Jamboree in Lynwood, Ill. The Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree was established in 2004 with one national tournament, but soon expanded to regional events in 2010. At these Jamborees, teams compete in a weekend-long tournament.
“Our girls are all really excited,” said Tony Salas, Northside National Little League President. “We were at our Jamboree, and they asked us if we wanted to be a part of it, and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to go.”
Mr. Salas and a baseball team from the Northside National Little League took part in the Texas State Urban Initiative Jamboree. In Texas, the Urban Initiative runs the Jamboree, with the assistance of the Council of Houston Inner City Little Leagues (C.H.I.L.L.), a group that has been a huge part of the Urban Initiative for more than a decade.
In addition to the games, the All-Star Youth Classic will provide the kids with the opportunity to participate in All-Star Week events such as MLB All-Star FanFest at the San Diego Convention Center, All-Star Sunday and Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Petco Park, and various PLAY BALL-related activities.
Established in 1999, the Urban Initiative supplies the financial and educational help to local leagues to provide to all children, from any economic background, the ability to play baseball and softball.