Little League International, Major League Baseball Partner to Host 2008 Fifth Annual Urban Initiative Jamboree
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (May 6, 2008) - Through the generosity of Major League Baseball, 14 regular season teams from urban communities and neighborhoods will be making the memorable trip to Williamsport, Pa., the home of Little League Baseball and Softball, for the fifth annual Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree, over the extended Memorial Day Weekend, May 23-26.
Major League Baseball (MLB), founding partner of the Jamboree, continues to provide support to the program as it has for the first four years. This year, MLB will again present Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, to all Jamboree participants. The Breaking Barriers program is multi-curricular character education program that was developed by MLB and Scholastic Inc. This 12-year program utilizes baseball-themed features, activities and lessons to teach children in grades 4-8 the values and traits they need to deal with the barriers and challenges in their lives. Using baseball as a metaphor for life, the curriculum is based on nine values demonstrated by the late Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.
“Major League Baseball is proud to be one of the founding partners of the Urban Initiative Jamboree,” Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said. “We continue to remain committed to making sure that all kids who wish to play baseball have an opportunity to do so. The Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree provides those opportunities and we are happy to play a role in making this dream trip a reality for teams involved.”
These children from Urban Initiative leagues (10 Major Division teams; 4 Junior Division teams) will be embarking on a unique and educational journey when they travel to Little League International, site of the annual Little League Baseball World Series.
On May 23-25, games will be played at Howard J. Lamade and Little League Volunteer Stadiums, sites of the annual World Series games; along with Carl Stotz Memorial Field, near the site of the first Little League games in 1939, and home to Original League. The Junior Division teams will play on the two standard-size fields at the Little League International complex.
In 2004, eight Urban Initiative leagues from the Eastern U.S. took part in the inaugural Jamboree. That number was expanded to 10 teams in 2005 and 2006, as teams from across the United States participated.
Last year, 14 regular-season teams from leagues aided by, or chartered through, the Urban Initiative traveled to Little League International from various points throughout the country.
“The Little League Urban Initiative has filled a void in many neighborhoods and has become a cornerstone for many metropolitan communities,” Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “The relevance and impact of the Urban Initiative Jamboree is evident by the enthusiasm of those who participate. The smiles on the faces of the players, parents and local league officials attending the annual Jamboree express that success, but moreover illustrate the appreciation for the program, and reinforce how important a role Little League can play in a child’s life.”
Participating in the Jamboree will be Little League programs from the following cities: Tuscaloosa, Ala (YMCA-Barnes Branch Little League); Chicago (Jackie Robinson West Little League); Stockton, Calif. (Stockton Southern Little League); Los Angeles (Holly Park Little League); Bridgeport, Conn., (Black Rock Little League); Houston (Magnolia National Little League); Indianapolis (Saint Albans Little League); Johns Island, S.C. (Low Country Little League); Dallas (West Dallas Little League); Macon, Ga. (Macon Little League); Trenton, N.J. (6-11 Little League), Milwaukee (James Beckum West Little League); New York (Greenwich Village Little League); and Baltimore (Forest Park Little League). One volunteer umpire from each league also will participate.
The Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree will consist of games, instruction, and other events to be announced. Although scores will be kept for the games, no champion will be declared. The public is invited to watch the games at no charge.
Major League Baseball will host a Pitch, Hit and Run competition for Jamboree players. Pitch, Hit and Run is the official skills competition of Major League Baseball. Participants have the opportunity to advance through four levels of competition: Local, Sectional, MLB Team Championship competitions and the National Finals at this summer’s All-Star Game in New York City.
“Each year the Urban Initiative Jamboree offers children a unique opportunity to visit Little League’s birthplace and experience all the sites and sounds enjoyed by teams that reach the Little League Baseball World Series,” Patrick W. Wilson, Little League International’s Vice President of Operations, said. “For five years, Jamboree participants have reveled in the chance to play on the World Series fields. Equally satisfying has been the appreciation and respect expressed by the coaches and families who recognize that these found memories will be theirs forever.”
Because many of the Little League Urban Initiative leagues and independent organizations operating in these environments face the same problems, networking opportunities are crucial to the growth of a volunteer-based organization. Little League encourages mentoring relationships with other Urban Initiative leagues, working toward positive relationships with the appropriate municipal agencies, developing an assessment of their program’s budgetary needs and concerns, and compiling a list of funding opportunities in their communities.
The Little League Urban Initiative has seen success in 85 U.S. cities since it began in 2000, and has participated in 21 field renovation/ development projects.
Castle Hill Little League, Van Nest Little League, Parkchester Little League and Bronxchester Little League in The Bronx, N.Y; Rosemoor Little League in Chicago; Peninsula Little League and Lents Little League in Portland, Ore.; and Stockton Eastern Little League in Stockton, Calif., all are undertaking field renovation projects in 2008. These were among several leagues that received funding and assistance through the Little League Urban Initiative. Currently, more than 200 local Little Leagues in the U.S. are part of the Urban Initiative. Through 2007, the program stimulated the addition of nearly 3,000 teams and 43,000 players.