“Long Ball” – a youth program that fosters growth in sports, academics and life skills through organized baseball leagues – returned to the DAP last week.
Hundreds of supporters turned out last Wednesday evening at the Durham Athletic Park to see the 2014 opening ceremonies, including the national anthem sung by members of 100 Men in Black and the first baseball games of the season.
Spectators included veterans of the Durham Negro League Baseball Club, many of whom got to interact with Long Ball players who came into the stands to meet the veteran players.
The all-volunteer Long Ball Program fields Durham Triple Play League teams, supported by Minor League Charities, for Durham youths ages 13-18. Fostering growth in sports, academics and life skills, Long Ball operates under the umbrella of RBI – Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities.
Now in its ninth year, Durham’s Long Ball program comprises 120 young players, along with 24 coaches and 10 staff members. It fields four teams for ages 13-15 and four teams for ages 16-18, each competing for a season title in their age bracket.
The league also offers free conditioning clinics and life skill seminars to its players in order to introduce them to various careers in the baseball industry, as well as free academic support for the players that need it.
Pat Nobles, who helped found the Durham program, noted that within the first year of Long Ball play, two young men went back to school so that they could participate in the program. They are expected to graduate this month.
“We believe that academics and sports are a perfect pair,” Nobles said.