In the Field of Dreams movie, the actor Kevin Costner plays Ray Kinsella and hears a voice in his corn field that says, “If you build it, he will come.” As most of us know, the “he” turns out to be his dad and the field is built to allow the two to mend their broken relationship over a game of catch in the outfield. Ghost players from the Chicago Black sox also get a chance to reunite and play. Ray’s dream became reality.
When it comes to the declining number of African-Americans in baseball, the solution to the problem has been to build/renovate fields and purchase expensive equipment. So what happens after you buy all this stuff? Don’t get me wrong, doing these things is needed but they are only incidental to the problem. Remember the movie? If you build it, they will come. But the question is– why don’t they stay? They don’t stay because there aren’t enough programs. Not just any programs, but programs that help inner city players connect the diamond to their everyday lives.
I have trained baseball players as a professional for over 11 years. Whether it be top players at the major league level or inner city youth without baseball experience – I’ve trained them. As a professional, every young man that I train develops sound baseball skills because of the instruction that I provide. Remember the saying, information is power? Well as it turns out, it’s true. What I do as a professional baseball instructor is no different than what dedicated, professional teachers do every day in the classroom. We provide valuable information that makes things like bats and gloves and science and technology make sense.
This is why I started L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct), a 501c3 non-profit that approaches the development of inner city baseball talent with an innovative methodology that begins with an actual curriculum for our year round program. It’s important for me to know that the information my staff shares with our Leaders is understood before we can expect to see a change in their baseball ability. In life, in order to see progress, you have to become part of a process. We lay the process out for our Leaders to see so all they have to do is follow. Just like Coke has a secret formula, L.E.A.D. does to. That secret formula has allowed 75% of Ambassadors to earn college baseball scholarship opportunities and 100% of our Ambassadors have gone to college.
I have a suggestion. Try building a state of the art school maxed out with new textbooks, Mac computers and science labs and leave teachers out of the equation. Are the kids going to get smarter by osmosis? Just having those tools isn’t enough. You’ve got to provide the professional teachers who show them how to use the Mac books and help them understand the concepts in the text. By the same token, new bats, gloves and fields are great, but if you don’t invest in instruction it’s all for not. So if you build it, they will definitely come. Just make sure you give them a reason to stay.