No love for this World Series

By Bonitta Best
Updated: July 23, 2009

DURHAM — As the former commissioner of the MEAC, Ken Free Sr. is used to disrespect by the mainstream media.

HBCUs are like black people in the workplace –they’re the last to get any kind of media coverage (hired), but the first to be dropped (fired) when the media cuts back on coverage.

So it was no surprise to Free when he couldn’t snag a TV network to broadcast the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League Black World Series scheduled for August 8 in Greensboro.

“I’m familiar with the difficulty involved in getting small market minority sporting events televised,” said Free who is chairman of the MJBL board. “I struggled for years to get a TV deal for MEAC football games. It’s great that modern technology will allow the Series to be aired live.”

Free is referring to the Series being shown via the Internet, a place where many displaced sporting events go. New York Mets hall of fame inductee Mookie Wilson will do the color commentary at www.mjbl.org.

The league is a 43-year-old nonprofit that caters primarily to black youth.

The 19th Annual Inner City Classic is slated for August 5-9 on the campus of N.C. A&T University. In addition to the World Series, the classic will host a Bobby Bonds Memorial Symposium on “The absence of African-American coaches at the Division I level in baseball.”

According to the BNET Web site, only 4.5 percent of black college athletes play baseball, a number that has dwindled significantly over the years.

The main reason, critics say, is black youth – especially in the inner cities – are more familiar with basketball and football players. Names like LeBron James and Terrell Owens come more easily to mind than…who?

Still, black youth do play baseball and over 50 teams, ranged in ages from 10 to 19, will participate next month. The 12U division will compete for the Black World Series, while the 13-15 and 16-19 age groups will vie for the Classic Crown.

“It is important for our youth to see adults that look like them in leadership roles governing programs that they participate in,” MJBL Executive Director William Forrester Jr. said.

NOTE: For more information, contact Chandra Lipford at (804) 264-6172.