Local baseball groups, veterans to be honored

The DC Grays have scheduled a series of tributes to community leaders for its Home Opening Weekend, as DC’s summer college baseball team starts its 2015 Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League season.  The Grays’ season begins on Wednesday, June 3 with three straight road games before the Grays come home to the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy for games on Saturday, June 6 and Sunday June 7.

On Saturday, June 6  before its 7:00pm game with the defending league champion Baltimore Redbirds, the Grays will honor it’s “DC Youth Baseball Partners in Progress.” Players and coaches from three youth baseball organizations from “east of the river” –  Mamie Johnson Little League, Southern District Little League and DC Knights Baseball – will be on hand to celebrate local youth baseball with the Grays.  Players from the leagues – all of which play games at the Academy – will be treated to free hot dogs and sodas, courtesy of the Grays, and will go out on the field with the Grays players before the game.  Players will also serve as Grays batboys during the game.

Also, prior to the first pitch that night, the Grays will honor the founders and board members of the Urban Baseball Foundation – a charity that has quietly funded baseball initiatives around the city since 2010.  The UBF has donated thousands of dollars to fledging community baseball efforts around Washington – including efforts to start Mamie Johnson Little League and Southern District Little League.  The Grays want to honor the leaders of this remarkable organization for the quiet work they have done to support youth baseball east of the river.

“Youth baseball is making a comeback east of the river,” said Paris Inman, community outreach director for the DC Grays and himself a longtime local Little League coach and volunteer. “The DC Grays want to be ‘ambassadors for baseball’ in Washington, DC and we are proud to join with the local Little Leagues, our partners at the National Youth Academy, and the UBF to bring baseball back to inner-city Washington.”

On Sunday, June 7 the Grays will host America’s veterans for the Grays 1:00pm game against the Baltimore Dodgers.  In cooperation with Phoenix Bat Company, the Grays will host veterans from the U.S Soldiers and Airmen’s Home in Northwest Washington. The Soldiers and Airmen’s Home, also known as the Armed Forces Retirement Home – Washington, is home to 1,300 veterans with an average age of over 80.  Many of these American heroes grew up in the Washington area and are longtime baseball fans – many can remember watching the old Negro League champion Homestead Grays (the namesake of today’s DC Grays) play at Griffith Stadium in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

“We are thrilled to honor these veterans from the Washington area,” said Michael Barbera, president of DC Grays Baseball. “It will be wonderful for our players to meet these American heroes, and for all of us to be able to thank them for their service.”

The DC Grays are a member of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League – one of the premier summer wood-bat college leagues in the country. The Grays roster is made up of top college players from around the country, who come to Washington to play championship caliber baseball and to experience the history and culture that only can be found in America’s capital city.  The DC Grays are overseen by DC Grays Baseball, a 501c3 non-profit organization that is led by an all-volunteer board of directors.  The Grays aim to be “ambassadors for baseball” in Washington, DC.  The team hosts free baseball and softball clinics for youngsters from all over DC.  The Grays are proud to play their home games at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.  Admission is free to all Grays home games.