February twenty fifth, 2023
The 2023 Andre Dawson Traditional — an annual MLB-hosted baseball showcase that includes traditionally black faculties and universities (HBCUs) — is below manner in New Orleans.
Launched in 2008, the fifteenth version of the round-robin event will function seven HBCUs, together with one making its first look on the occasion. The motion began Friday with two video games on MLB Network, MLB.com and the MLB App.
Alabama A&M opened play Friday by defeating Prairie View A&M, 13-1. Dawson’s alma mater, Florida A&M, defeated Southern 12-6 within the afternoon. Jackson State shut out New Orleans — a co-host of the event and the one non-HBCU faculty competing — 3-0. Within the nightcap, Alabama State scored six runs within the tenth for a 10-4 victory over Grambling State.
“We’re honored to be within the event, particularly due to the namesake of the event,” stated Florida A&M head coach Jamey Shouppe. “Andre’s not solely, clearly, a legendary baseball determine and a Corridor of Famer, however a man that walked the identical campus that our gamers presently stroll and practiced on a number of the similar fields that our guys apply on.”
Dawson, who starred for the Rattlers from 1972-75, wasn’t chosen till the Expos known as his title within the eleventh spherical of the 1975 MLB Draft. He wasted no time making a reputation for himself on the subsequent degree, nevertheless, profitable the 1977 NL Rookie of the 12 months Award. He went on to win the 1987 NL MVP Award with the Cubs, the ’87 Residence Run Derby, eight Gold Glove Awards and 4 Silver Sluggers, all whereas making eight All-Star appearances throughout his 21-year Corridor of Fame profession.
Dawson is one in every of simply three HBCU alumni — together with Lou Brock and Larry Doby — within the Corridor of Fame.
This yearly occasion, initially known as the City Invitational, was renamed for Dawson starting in 2018. Whatever the title, one faculty that has been there for all 15 tournaments is Southern College.
“It is a wealthy custom of enjoying in it,” stated Southern head coach Chris Crenshaw.
On the different finish of the spectrum is Alabama A&M, led by head coach Elliott Jones. Whereas the varsity might be making its first look on the Andre Dawson Traditional, Jones himself has loads of expertise with the occasion.
A former participant and assistant coach at Southern, Jones beforehand participated in a handful of those tournaments. That features the 2012 model, when he took the sphere at Houston’s Minute Maid Park as a part of the three-day showcase.
“That was such an excellent alternative. At an traditionally black school, not many guys get an opportunity to play in a Main League ballpark, and we have been one of many packages that had that chance to play at Minute Maid,” stated Jones, whose Alabama A&M membership wraps up with a Sunday showdown in opposition to Southern. “It may be thrilling. Coach Crenshaw has completed a very nice job at Southern, with the profitable custom there, so it should be an thrilling Sunday matchup that I am wanting ahead to.”
Each membership collaborating on this yr’s Andre Dawson Traditional options alumni of both MLB Growth Initiatives or Reviving Baseball in Internal Cities (RBI) packages.
In whole, there are 42 gamers who’ve participated in MLB Growth Initiatives, such because the Dream Series, Breakthrough Series and the Hank Aaron Invitational. That is a 121% enhance from 2022. The ’23 model additionally consists of 44 alumni from RBI packages (a 47% enhance from 2022) and 19 alumni of MLB Youth Academies.
“It is necessary for the children who come by means of our improvement packages and are available by means of the RBI packages or Breakthrough Sequence or Hank Aaron Invitational, to get a possibility to finish up going to those faculties and furthering their schooling and in addition having an opportunity to play baseball,” stated Del Matthews, MLB’s vp of baseball improvement. “The surroundings on the HBCUs and the cultures there, particularly for baseball, is like no different.”
The annual showcase is just not solely an excellent alternative for the present student-athletes, nevertheless it has additionally offered the faculties with a serious enhance with regards to recruiting highschool ballplayers.
“I feel the local weather we reside in now, for the children, it is large any time you get an opportunity to play on MLB Community or any time you get an opportunity to play on TV interval,” stated Davin Pierre, who has served as Grambling State’s recruiting coordinator since 2012 and is in his second yr as this system’s head coach. “It permits the children to know this can be a place the place they are often seen. Taking part in on this event, there might be loads of scouts there — so our youngsters will truly get a possibility to be seen by scouts. So it is huge for recruiting.”
As necessary as it’s to carry out properly on the sphere this weekend, the coaches additionally confused the significance of the athletes taking satisfaction not solely to play on a nationwide stage, but in addition within the alternative to characterize Dawson.
“He was not solely a legendary baseball participant, however an superior man,” Shouppe stated. “That is one thing we attempt to instill in our gamers: A legacy of enjoying in a event like this, it is necessary not solely the way you play, however the way you deal with your self within the strategy of enjoying, which is one thing Andre did all through his profession.”