Now that Major League Baseball's oldest Urban Youth Academy (UYA) has wrapped up its sixth celebrity golf tournament, the focus shifts to the newest UYA holding its first.
With the help of Rangers manager Ron Washington and Major League pitcher Chad Gaudin, the New Orleans UYA, which is under construction, will host its inaugural celebrity golf tournament on Monday. The event will start at 1 p.m. ET at the English Turn Golf Club. Pricing info and registration is available at mlb.com/urbanyouthacademy.
Joining hosts Washington and Gaudin, two New Orleans natives, will be pitchers Ben Sheets and Tim Collins, former All-Stars Bob Watson and Will Clark, and former outfielders Jacque Jones and Darryl Hamilton. Clark was born and raised in New Orleans; Sheets and Hamilton are products of Baton Rouge, La.
In addition, Washington and Gaudin will take part in a free youth baseball clinic at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday at Zephyr Field, home to the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate.
The New Orleans tourney comes on the heels of the sixth annual golf tournament at the first UYA in Compton, Calif. The event, which took place on Friday, has previously raised up to $90,000 for the Academy.
In August, MLB and the city of New Orleans announced a $5.3 million project to build an academy at Wesley Barrow Stadium in Pontchartrain Park -- one that will provide free year-round baseball and softball opportunities for up to 1,500 underserved kids in the community.
The academy will feature three decked-out fields -- for baseball, softball and T-ball -- in addition to four batting cages and an indoor facility.
The hope is that funds generated through the New Orleans golf tournament will help make all of that a reality.
"Absolutely," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president of baseball development. "We have Wash and Chad Gaudin sponsoring it, and we have a lot of current players and former players joining us -- and not just baseball players, but we're hoping to cross into former players in other sports like in Compton [where NBA greats Jerry West and Elgin Baylor showed up]. This is our first tournament. Everything has to start somewhere. ... But we start now, and with the academy online to open next year, this can really propel us forward and be a great jumping-off point."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.