MLB renames HBCU spotlight college baseball tournament Andre Dawson Classic
Games Played at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy on Saturday, Feb. 17th
Will Air LIVE on MLB Network & MLB.com
Major League Baseball today announced that its annual collegiate tournament designed to highlight baseball programs at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) has been renamed the “Andre Dawson Classic,” after the Chicago Cubs and Montreal Expos legend who is one of only two HBCU alumni enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 2018 edition of the event, formerly known as the “Urban Invitational,” will feature six HBCU teams, the most in the event’s 11-year history, as well as the University of New Orleans (UNO) and University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dawson said: “It is with the utmost appreciation that I take this opportunity to thank MLB for this honor. I am a product of an HBCU program that provided me an opportunity to pursue a college education while chasing a childhood dream. I am both honored and humbled to play a role in empowering students to be leaders in their communities and strive to improve and impact the lives of others.”
The Andre Dawson Classic will be hosted primarily at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy (MLBYA), with games also being played at Maestri Field, the home of the UNO baseball team, from Friday, February 16th through Sunday, February 18th. Two of the games played at the MLBYA on Saturday, February 17th will air LIVE on MLB Network and MLB.com at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. ET, with play-by-play from Scott Braunand analysis from former All-Star outfielder Cliff Floyd.
Alabama State University (Montgomery, Ala.; 2nd appearance), Alcorn State University (Alcorn, Miss.; 4th appearance), Grambling State University (Grambling, La.; 7th appearance), Prairie View A&M University (Prairie View, Texas; 4th appearance), Southern University (Baton Rouge, La.; 11th appearance) and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (Pine Bluff, Ark.; 1st appearance) will represent the HBCU programs at the round-robin tournament. Southern University is the only school to have participated in every tournament, while the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff will be making its tournament debut. The University of New Orleans has participated in every event hosted in the New Orleans area (5th overall appearance) while the University Illinois at Chicago is making its second straight appearance.
Below is the tournament schedule (all times CT):
|Feb. 16||12:00p.m.||Southern University vs. UIC||New Orleans MLBYA|
|Feb. 16||12:00p.m.||Alcorn vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff||University of New Orleans|
|Feb. 16||3:30p.m.||Grambling State vs. Southern University||New Orleans MLBYA|
|Feb. 16||6:30p.m.||UIC vs. UNO||University of New Orleans|
|Feb. 16||6:30p.m.||Alabama State vs. Prairie View||New Orleans MLBYA|
|Feb. 17||2:00p.m.*||UIC vs. Southern University||New Orleans MLBYA|
|Feb. 17||3:00p.m.||Prairie View A&M vs. Alcorn State||University of New Orleans|
|Feb. 17||6:00p.m.*||Alabama State vs. UNO||New Orleans MLBYA|
|Feb. 17||6:30p.m.||Arkansas Pine Bluff vs. Grambling State||University of New Orleans|
|Feb. 18||12:00p.m.||Prairie View A&M vs. UIC||New Orleans MLBYA|
|Feb. 18||12:00p.m.||Arkansas Pine Bluff vs. Alabama State||University of New Orleans|
|Feb. 18||3:00p.m.||Southern University vs. UNO||University of New Orleans|
|Feb. 18||3:00p.m.||Alcorn State vs. Grambling State||New Orleans MLBYA|
*These games will air LIVE on MLB Network and MLB.com.
Former Major Leaguers, including Dawson, two-time MLB All-Star Dmitri Young, former MLB PitcherMarvin Freeman, and former American League Manager of the Year & current MLB Youth Programs consultant Jerry Manuel all will attend various portions of the event. Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Curtis Granderson will also make a special appearance to support his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday’s contest between UIC and Southern. Additionally, Granderson’s cousin, Calvin Rucker, is an infielder on Prairie View A&M. Young’s son, Owen Young, is a member of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff baseball team and Freeman’s son, Justin Freeman, is participating in the tournament for the second consecutive year as a Pitcher for Southern University.
HBCUs have long offered quality educational and athletic programs and have a proud tradition of attracting outstanding baseball players. Baseball Hall of Famers Lou Brock (Southern University) andDawson (Florida A&M University) played in HBCU baseball programs. In the event’s 11-year history, more than 25 HBCU players who have participated in the tournament have been selected in the MLB Draft. In 2015, Earl Burl III, who played for Alcorn State University and was the first player to be drafted out of the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy, was selected. Since then, Tyree Thompson (Texas Rangers – 2016) and Tyler James (Kansas City Royals – 2017) have also been drafted out of the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy.
MLB’s youth initiatives will be well represented at the Andre Dawson Classic, as 22 players on this year’s rosters are alumni of MLB Youth Academies, RBI programs or MLB Amateur Development Camps. Nine players on Prairie View’s roster have participated in one of the aforementioned programs, the most out of all participating schools. Additionally, eight players will represent the White Sox A.C.E and RBI program in the tournament, six of whom have also participated in the Breakthrough Series (BTS), MLB’s signature amateur development camp. Among them are Tyler Laux (BTS), Tyler Gordon (BTS), and Andrew Garcia (BTS) from Prairie View A&M; Reggie Johnson (BTS) and Robert Fletcher II (BTS) from Alcorn State; Marshawn Taylor (BTS) and Nick Wheeler from Grambling State; and Freeman from Southern University. MLB’s RBI program will have 17 total alumni, with six coming out of Prairie View, five out of Grambling State, four out of Southern University and two out of Alcorn State.
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