Black college baseball received a major boost recently when teams from Southern (Baton Rouge, La.) and Bethune-Cookman took part in Major League Baseball’s first Urban Invitational. The invitational featured a sixgame tournament with Southern and Bethune-

Sponsored by the Youth Baseball Academy and Major League Baseball, the invitational was played at USC’s Rod Dedeaux Field and UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium, both in Los Angeles. The event was held to increase the exposure of baseball programs at Black colleges and universities and to attract more young African Americans to the game of baseball.

Southern head coach Roger Cador, whose program produced Milwaukee Brewer star Rickie Weeks, said the tournament was more important than just baseball.

“These games have implications and historical proportions when you look at what it means to kids that play baseball, specifically African American kids who are getting the opportunity to play two powerhouses in UCLA and USC,” Cador said. “Maybe this will motivate them to get other people involved (in playing the game of baseball).”

While Bethune-Cookman or Southern didn’t get a victory against the Trojans and Bruins in the sixgame series, Bethune-Cookman Wildcats head coach Mervyl Melendez said he was proud that his team was invited to take part in the invitational. "You have to be delighted to be here and we are,” Melendez said.

“This event is going to grow bigger than it is now. “To be in the first tournament is special, because you have to be considered one of the better teams in the nation and we’re proud of that." In addition to baseball, the invitational also featured a college fair and performances by the Southern University and USC Marching bands.

"Now you can get kids to think about college and young people are into music, so baseball needs to capture their attention — music will do it, so they’ll come and capture their curiosity and they may see something that they’ll remember," Cador added. In other Black college sport news… Benedict College captured the title in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament with a 74-69-overtime victory over Tuskegee.

The game was played at Fair Park Arena in Birmingham, Ala.

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