When the city leagues stopped operating for kids in certain age groups who wanted to play baseball, Pat James stepped up. She wanted her son and his friends to have the opportunity to play. But she also wanted to make sure that they kept their eye on the ball.
“There is one requirement to play ball – be enrolled in school. That’s it,” James said. “We’re trying to get them to be motivated to stay in school.”
In the first year, two players returned to school so they could participate, one of the first of many successes for James and the program.
Recently the Long Ball Program became part of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, a distinction that will give its players a better chance of receiving a scholarship to play baseball on the collegiate level.
The emphasis on winning on and off the field will serve the young players well as they journey through life. Anyone who doubts you can’t find role models in sports need look no further than this week’s Grit Award winners, Pat James and the league she has created.