MLB to host youth baseball tourney

MLB to host Urban Invitational

COMPTON, Calif. -- Building on the success established last year, Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that the MLB Urban Youth Academy (UYA) will host the second annual Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament from Feb. 20-22 with the games on Saturday, Feb. 21 broadcast live on MLB Network.

The event spotlights Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their baseball programs in an effort to provide them with national exposure. HBCUs Bethune-Cookman University (Daytona Beach, Fla.) and Southern University (Baton Rouge, La.) will face off against NCAA Division I schools University of San Diego (USD) and San Diego State University (SDSU). Last year, UCLA and USC took part in the initial tournament.

"The Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament is a part of our continued focus on reviving the majesty of baseball in the African-American community," said MLB executive vice president of operations Jimmie Lee Solomon. "This tournament, along with the other programs at the MLB Urban Youth Academy, the Civil Rights Game and many of our other efforts, is reflective of Commissioner [Bud] Selig's and baseball's commitment to diversity, inclusion and engagement of our nation's young people."

For the second straight year, the UYA will also be hosting a college fair on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009. Over 16 colleges and universities will be represented and provide information to parents and young adults regarding college preparation, undergraduate and graduate degree programs, financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

Tournament games will be played at the UYA beginning Friday, Feb. 20 and continuing through Sunday, Feb. 22. Both games on Saturday, will be played at the UYA and broadcast live on MLB Network with Victor Rojas providing play-by-play and former Major Leaguer Harold Reynolds serving as color analyst.

"With the baseball season fast approaching, we're looking forward to giving our fans more live baseball," said Tony Petitti, president and CEO, MLB Network. "But more importantly, we're proud to help promote [and] grow the game while celebrating the rich history of baseball in the African-American community."

For the second straight year, the tournament will kick off with a live performance from Grammy-nominated recording artist Jeffrey Osborne, who will perform the national anthem.

A major highlight from last year's kickoff was the battle between Southern University's "Human Jukebox" and Bethune-Cookman's "Marching Wildcats," between games of the doubleheader. This year, they bring their timeless rhythmic performance rivalry back to Compton.

A high school All-Star Battle of the Bands will also take place and will feature bands from the local area: Compton, Crenshaw, and Jordan. Southern University and Bethune-Cookman University baseball teams will square off against each other at 1 p.m. PT on Sunday at the Academy.

"On behalf of Southern University, we are honored to be playing in [the] Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament for the second time," says Southern Baseball coach Roger Cador. "This is a first class event at a great facility, and we surely hope that the Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament continues to grow, and with the assistance of Major League Baseball, we are hoping that more of our youth from our urban and inner-city areas are once again exposed to college baseball and Historically Black Colleges and Universities."

"Our program is thrilled to represent San Diego State in the Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy," said San Diego State University's head baseball coach and MLB Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. "We are honored to play in the event and our players look forward to some great college baseball."

Tickets to the games being played at the UYA will be available for purchase on game day for $5. Children 12 and under and students with a valid ID will be admitted for free. Proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit the MLB Urban Youth Academy, which is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.

Schedule (All Times Pacific):

  • Friday, Feb. 20: Southern University vs. USD, 2 p.m. at MLB Urban Youth Academy
  • Friday, Feb. 20: Bethune-Cookman vs. SDSU, 6 p.m. at MLB Urban Youth Academy
  • Saturday, Feb. 21: USD vs. Bethune-Cookman, 2 p.m. at MLB Urban Youth Academy
    • High School All-Star Battle of the Bands - Compton High School, Jordan High School, Crenshaw High School, 10 a.m.
    • College Battle of the Bands - Southern's "Human Jukebox" and Bethune-Cookman's "Marching Wildcats," 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 21: SDSU vs. Southern University, 6 p.m. at MLB Urban Youth Academy
  • Sunday, Feb. 22: Southern University vs. Bethune-Cookman, 1 p.m. at MLB Urban Youth Academy
  • Sunday, Feb. 22: SDSU vs. USD, 1 p.m. at University of San Diego

Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.