I was running with a friend this morning. He told me about something quite odd that he had spotted while running through a city park a few days earlier. He hadn't seen anything like it in - he couldn't remember how long.
A group of city kids had gathered on a rec field. They were playing pickup baseball.
True, baseball may be the National Pastime. It isn't the city game. Not anymore. Equipment is too expensive. Fields in many urban areas are hard to come by. It's perceived to be too slow.
It isn't the game of African Americans either. Black players held nine per cent of roster spots in Major League Baseball in 2005, down from 18 per cent in 1991. A company called Scarborough Sports Marketing puts African American turnout at MLB games at eight per cent of total attendance. That's pretty bad considering that blacks make up 13 per cent of the U.S. population.
So, I like Baltimore's new President's Cup, just announced last week. It's a high school tournament that brings together public and private school kids in a friendly baseball tournament. It's a creative way of using sport to bridge social and economic gaps. And - key factor - a member of my family is involved in the planning.