Thursday, July 24, 2008

MLB's good deed: The Breakthrough Series

A thumbs up to Major League Baseball for a smart youth sports event it's hosting this week.

The event is the Breakthrough Series, a three-day audition for high school juniors and seniors hoping to play baseball in college. The wrinkle is that that kids participating, for the most part, are from inner cities and disadvantaged backgrounds. They don't have the finances to pay their way to for-profit showcase tournaments.

The Breakthrough Series is being held at MLB's Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif. It's a fabulous complex, with diamonds, batting cages and, as impressive, study areas and a wonderful library filled with baseball books. I had the pleasure of visiting in 2006 and meeting the director, former big leaguer, Darrell Miller. I've been critical of MLB for so many blunders over the years. MLB deserves considerable praise for the Urban Youth Academy. It's a gem.

Anyway, the kids participating in the series are coming from all parts of the country. They'll be observed by dozens of college coaches. And their teachers for the week include Rod Carew and Frank Robinson. As one player told me when I shared that news: "Awesome."

I've written about the Breakthrough Series in next week's Sports Business Journal.

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