Show host Mark Gray to throw out first pitch
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The DC Grays summer college baseball team begins it’s 2017 Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League season with a Tuesday June 6 home game against the Alexandria Aces at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy (3675 Ely Place, SE, Washington, DC).
Game time is 7:00pm, and the Grays are honored to have special guest throw out the first pitch to kick-off the new season. Mark Gray (pictured above-right), a sports talk radio host on 106.7 FM The Fan and the Heritage Sport Radio Network, will do the honors that night.
Gray has been a fan and supporter of the DC Grays for several years, and is a regular at the Grays’ annual “Cigars and Curveballs” fundraiser hosted by Thom Loverro, a Washington sports media institution and a longtime board member of DC Grays Baseball. Gray was attracted to the Grays because he supports the team’s community outreach efforts – including the Grays’ extensive youth baseball programs for kids in Wards 6, 7, and 8.
“We are honored to have Mark help open our 2017 season,” said Grays General manager Antonio Scott. “He has been a great supporter of our mission in being ambassadors for baseball in the District.”
“For a kid that played the game growing up this is a dream come true,” said Gray. “I’m down with what the DC Grays stand for and I hope to be a part of it moving forward. Hopefully, I still have 60 ft. 6 in. left in the right arm and don’t make the Not Top 10” said Gray.
The DC Grays collegiate team begins its 2017 season on Tuesday June 6th, 7PM at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy (3675 Ely Place SE, Washington, DC 20019) which is the home field for the team. This will be the Grays fourth season using the Academy as its home field – and the Academy’s location on Ely Place allows the Grays to make top-quality college baseball available to inner-city kids and their families.
The Grays also partner with Major League Baseball to operate the “Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities” (RBI) program for DC. Through the “DC Grays RBI” program, the Grays sponsor nine baseball and softball teams – primarily for kids in wards 6, 7 and 8. DC Grays RBI also offers a full “fall ball” schedule in baseball and softball as well as a winter training program.
“From the college Grays all the way down to DC Grays RBI, we are making the great game of baseball more available to more kids of all ages throughout the District,” said Scott.
Scott means business for the Grays
Saturday June 3, 2017
By: David Sibony; DCGrays.com Press
WASHINGTON D.C., Antonio Scott has been a part of the DC Grays since 2005 – first as a co-founder of the “old” DC Grays in the now-defunct Clark Griffith League and now as General Manager of the DC Grays in the Ripken League since 2012. Antonio is in charge of all baseball operations for the Grays – and in this role he oversees the coaching staff and is primarily responsible for roster construction. He has also taken on an additional challenge this season – to oversee a new community outreach strategy for the team to generate more attendance and enthusiasm for the team. He sat down for an interview recently with Grays intern David Sibony.
Sibony: What do the DC Grays mean to you and this community?
Scott: I’m not sure I can speak for the community – that’s one of our goals for the season… to connect the Grays more closely to the community here in Southeast. As far as me, the Grays mean the world to me! They’ve been a big part of my life for years. I guess that makes me a little crazy, but I passionately believe in what we stand for and what we want to accomplish as an organization from the college level team down to our new DC Grays RBI youth program.
Sibony: Talk to me about the RBI program?
Scott: I want people to understand that the Grays are reaching to kids from Little League age on up. Yes, the primary team in my view will always be the “Big Grays” as I like to call them, which is our summer collegiate team in the Ripken League. However, our DC Grays RBI program now gives this organization a platform to help groom and develop DC kids to become better ballplayers, get into college, and possibly play for the Big Grays someday. That is the vision.
Sibony: What is your favorite part of your job?
Scott: I love recruiting… I love connecting with the college players and coaches and putting our roster together. Then I follow them in the college season all spring. It’s exciting to anticipate what type of player we are getting in a guy and then helping him succeed at bettering his game. I have always loved analyzing stats so I assess players the best I can through paying attention to their numbers during the college season.
Sibony: What are you and the front office doing to elevate the Grays to another level?
Scott: There is a lot going on. I have to give recognition to our Board of Directors. I’ve never worked with a more dedicated group of people in my life. I mean that. Everyone has taken on specific roles – we’ve formed committees that focus on specific areas of our operation. Mike Barbera, our team president has orchestrated it all so well – and we have been able to make significant strides each year to our ultimate goal.
Sibony: There are lots of young men on this team and a few HS graduates, what’s the thought process about recruiting such a young team?
Scott: Ultimately we would love to have more upperclassmen players. As a league we compete with several other top-level summer college baseball leagues around the country. The Ripken League is viewed by professional scouts as an excellent developmental league for younger players. Our team is young because many college programs see the league as a good first summer option for a young freshman or sophomore player. They know they will face top competition and get great coaching.
Sibony: How do you feel you compare to other teams in the league on and off the field?
Scott: I myself don’t like to even compare us to any other team. Ideally I see us as a model organization. Very few summer college teams do what we do – recruiting African-American ballplayers, supporting black college baseball. There are only a handful of teams in the entire country doing that. Now we have a youth baseball program aimed at inner-city kids that is second to none. But let’s be fair – we’ve been a playoff team only once in our first five years in the Ripken League and we’re always trying to improve in the standings. I’m confident we are heading in the right direction in all areas of our organization. Our summer college team continues to improve and our DC Grays RBI program gives us a way to bring baseball and softball to kids in Wards 6, 7 and 8. That program has an extremely high ceiling of potential and we’re excited about that.
Sibony: What are some of your assessments and/or outlook for the players you have this season?
Scott: For starters I got to say that I feel that this is the deepest team we’ve had from a non-pitching standpoint ever. I feel that we will be competitive night in and night out. I’m excited about Lamar Briggs coming back for a third season with us from Jackson State. He finished as a first team all-conference player in the SWAC this year and we expect him to be a leader and very productive in the line-up. Other returning players from last year include outfielder Vinnie Catanza, and pitchers Matt Dalke and Trey Congleton. They were all solid contributors last year, and I each expect productive seasons from each of them.
Although everybody else is new to our team, there are a few players that made some big-time contributions to their college teams this spring season. That excites me to see if it will transfer over to the Grays season. We are too deep on the roster to mention all the guys, but Isaiah Kearns had a terrific freshman year at West Virginia going 5-0 as a pitcher this year in 7 starts with a 4.78 ERA. Michael Parsons also had a good freshman year at Dartmouth posting a 4.30 ERA in 13 appearances as a reliever.
I’m excited about all of our guys in all honesty. Can’t wait to see what each one of them bring to the table.
Real ambassadors for baseball in DC
May 8, 2017
By: DCGrays.com Press
WASHINGTON D.C., under a mission and vision to help develop youth baseball in the District of Columbia, the Grays organization has been dedicated to providing equipment, clinics, camps, and many other resources to youth in the city who are both under-served and come from low to moderate income levels. One of the main outreach efforts by the organization began a few years ago when Chris Spera, VP of Baseball Operations for the Grays, took a special interest in a youth team located literally a shagged fly ball away from the Nationals Youth Academy (where the DC Grays Collegiate team plays).
The Sousa Middle School baseball team became and adopted program for the organization when Spera simply did what he always does so naturally…..help out! Since the adoption the Grays have helped the Sousa team with equipment, apparel, and some training as well. The Sousa team is only one piece to the machine that the Grays organization is building in Wards 7 and 8 of the city primarily and intended to spread across town as well. These areas of the city see the least amount of youth baseball/softball programs develop but that has changed and picked up some steam the past few years due to the efforts of the Grays organization along with some community partners.
Another program growing rapidly for the organization is the fairly new DC Grays RBI youth program which is sanctioned by Major League Baseball. In just one full year the Grays RBI program consist of several 15U and 18U baseball/softball tournament teams in which the selection tryouts or “Qulaifiers” in order to select the 15-man roster for each team has an average turn out range of 50-60 players. Throughout this past winter and early spring the organization held free “Saturday Workouts” in order to help youth get ready for the spring/summer baseball season. Attendance was on average 20-25 players each week which was an excellent turn out for the workouts. This past weekend the Grays RBI program continued it’s tournament teams selection process with it’s second of three “Qualifier” tryouts.
Here is a short clip and some great images from this past weekend’s qualifier:
Cigars and Curveballs event coming soon
May 8, 2017
By: DCGrays.com Press
WASHINGTON D.C., as the DC Grays organization gears up for it’s summer activities with both the collegiate Grays and the RBI Grays youth program, the excitement within the Grays world continues to grow. One of the key events that helps the organization provide resources for its programs is the annual “Cigars and Curveballs” charity event held graciously at “Shelly’s Backroom” (1331 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004) which has hosted the event each year it has been held. This year’s event will take place on May 22, 2017 from 6p-8p.
The event is catered towards the typical “Cigar Aficionado” but over the years the event has hosted some non-cigar smokers attend and have a great time with some of the individuals out there who support our cause. Guest appearances from local legends like Rick “Doc” Walker and Kevin Blackistone have been in attendance at the event the past few years and you just never know who may show to mingle with organization’s supporters.
Thom Loverro of 106.7 The Fan, the Washington Times and his “Cigars and Curveballs” podcast will again host the evening which includes an auction of MLB game tickets, signed memorabilia, vacations, and more.
HERE IS MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS GREAT EVENT
Loverro and Williams talk African-Americans playing baseball
April 25, 2017
BY: DCGrays.com Press
WASHINGTON, DC: Recently our very own Thom Loverro of the Washington Times wrote an article featuring Jimmy Williams one of the Grays assistant coaches and a local DC legend in the baseball community. As a native Washingtonian, Williams has a unique perspective about the sport he loves and himself have thrived from playing practically his entire life from little league to the pro ranks.
Read more HERE
Helpful equipment donation goes a long way
March 15, 2017
Washington, DC: On a random morning a few weeks ago Grays General Manager Antonio Scott received a phone call from a gentleman that he had never met before. Robert Harris, who sits as an at-large board member of the West Springfield Little League, made a heartfelt decision. Mr. Harris expressed interest in donating some used equipment and unused baseball pants and apparel to the DC Grays RBI program. “The equipment is still very much usable and I’m sure some of the youth you work with can benefit from some extra equipment.” explained Mr. Harris.
After a good conversation between Mr. Harris and Antonio, the two set up a meeting for the equipment to be collected. When they linked up, Antonio expressed his gratitude for the donation and that he would make sure that the kids under the RBI program will get first grabs at the equipment. However, the story does not stop there. Antonio expressed to Mr. Harris that he wanted to establish a new donation pipeline. He plans to do this in the form of sending some used and unused equipment and apparel to a youth program that his godfather has set up in Colon, Panama. “In addition to sending equipment, I want to establish some form of a pen-pal program between the youth my godfather works with in Panama and the youth we work with here in DC under our RBI program. I think it will help the youth that we work with here learn and understand the importance of giving/sharing with those who are less fortunate than you.”
The DC Grays organization would like to thank Mr. Harris and the West Springfield Little League!