The 2013 baseball is right around the corner and four teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference are poised to compete in the Major League Baseball Urban Invitational Feb. 22-24 in Houston.
The 2013 Urban Invitational, which is returning to Houston for the second consecutive year, will exclusively feature four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the first time in the event's history. The four participating collegiate baseball programs are Alabama State University (Montgomery, Alabama), Southern University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), Prairie View A&M University (Prairie View, Texas) and Texas Southern University (Houston). The Urban Invitational is the annual, round-robin collegiate baseball tournament designed by Major League Baseball to give HBCUs and their baseball programs national exposure.
Southern University has been a regular participant, playing in all six Urban Invitational games, while this is the second time for Alabama State University, Prairie View A&M University and Texas Southern University.
All Urban Invitational games will be played at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. The games on Saturday, February 23rd will air live on MLB Network and MLB.com, beginning at 4:00 p.m. CT (5:00 p.m. ET), with play-by-play from MLB Network Analysts Joe Magrane and Paul Severino.
"Major League Baseball would like to congratulate the four teams and all the student-athletes who will be participating in this year's Urban Invitational," said Frank Robinson, MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Development. "This annual event is an important and special opportunity for the sport to showcase the talent and skill level demonstrated by HBCU programs deserving of national attention. We are proud to work alongside the Astros organization to not only provide a wonderful experience for those playing the games on the field, but also offer opportunities away from the diamond for the Houston community."
"The Houston Astros are very excited that Major League Baseball has chosen to return the Urban Invitational to Minute Maid Park this year," said Daryl Wade, Manager of the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy. "Last year's event was a great success for the Astros, Major League Baseball and the city of Houston. We all look forward to continuing this relationship with the ultimate goal of continuing to provide local youth, students and young professionals instruction, support and opportunities for their future successes."
Prior to Saturday's contests, MLB and the Houston Astros will host a youth baseball clinic at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. Players from each of the participating teams in the Urban Invitational will help provide instruction to Academy youth and boys and girls from local Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities programs (RBI).
Additionally, MLB and the Houston Astros will host a college and career fair at Minute Maid Park on Friday, February 22nd from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. CT. Participating colleges and universities will provide information about college preparation, undergraduate and graduate degree programs, financial aid and scholarship opportunities, and local businesses will also be on hand to provide career advice and discuss potential job opportunities.
Tickets to all games and events at Minute Maid Park will be available to the general public for $10.00, and parking for Minute Maid Park is also available for $10.00 in the Diamond Lot and $5.00 for the other Astros controlled lots. High School students and below with a valid student ID will be admitted to the ballpark for free. All proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Foundation, which is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) corporation.
Major League Baseball is committed to implementing programs that provide underserved and inner-city youth with more opportunities to play baseball and softball. With four operating MLB Urban Youth Academies in Houston, Compton (California), New Orleans (Louisiana) and Gurabo (Puerto Rico), and three others announced in Cincinnati (Ohio), Hialeah (Florida) and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), MLB has continued to pledge resources to bring America's pastime to young people in urban communities.
HBCUs have long offered quality educational and athletic programs and have a proud tradition of outstanding baseball players. Baseball Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Andre Dawson, as well as current Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, played in HBCU baseball programs. Since 2008, the year of the inaugural Urban Invitational, 15 HBCU players who have played in the Urban Invitational have been selected in the First-Year Player Draft, including three in 2012. Christopher Wolfe, who played in the 2012 Urban Invitational for Grambling State University, was selected in the 30th round (919 overall) by the Oakland Athletics.
Complete Game Schedule (All games at Minute Maid Park - All times are Central Time):
Friday, February 22,
Southern University vs. Texas Southern University, 3:00 p.m.
Prairie View A&M University vs. Alabama State University, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 23,
Alabama State University vs. Southern University, 4:00 p.m. - LIVE on MLB Network and MLB.com
Texas Southern University vs. Prairie View A&M University, 7:30 p.m. - LIVE on MLB Network and MLB.com
Sunday, February 24,
Alabama State University vs. Texas Southern University, 12:00 p.m.
Southern University vs. Prairie View A&M University, 3:30 p.m.