Community Corner: Urban Invitational makes a splash at Minute Maid Park.

Welcome to our Community Corner, a soon-to-be regular feature on this blog that will give updates on some of the non-baseball events the Astros are involved with. Our guest blogger is Dairanetta Spain, the club’s manager of community affairs. This week, Dairanetta gives us highlights from the MLB Urban Invitational that was held at Minute Maid Park last weekend.

Historically black colleges and universities are known for their rich tradition in history and are a source of accomplishment and great pride for the African American community.

The Houston Astros and Major League Baseball joined forces to display HBCUs and their baseball programs on a national scale last weekend during the 2012 MLB Urban Invitational held at Minute Maid Park.

The 2012 tournament featured five HBCUS: Alabama State University, Grambling State University, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University and Texas Southern University along with NCAA Division I school University of California, Irvine. Texas Southern, Grambling, and Southern each finished the three-day event with a 2-1 record.

Many came out to Minute Maid Park over the three-day weekend event, taking in games, attending a college fair and enjoying entertainment by the Texas Southern “Ocean of Soul” and Prairie View A&M “Marching Storm” soulful marching bands. Jennifer Holliday, Grammy and Tony Award-winning artist and HBCU alumnus of Texas Southern, performed “America the Beautiful” before the final game of the Saturday lineup. Holliday’s performance and games played at Minute Maid Park that day aired live on MLB Network and

HBCUs have long offered quality educational and athletic programs and have a proud tradition of producing outstanding baseball players. Baseball Hall of Famers Lou Brock (Southern University) and Andre Dawson (Florida A&M University), as well as current Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks (Southern University) played in HBCU baseball programs. Thirteen HBCU players were selected in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, six of whom played in last year’s Urban Invitational in Compton. Through the annual Urban Invitational, MLB aims to help these programs continue providing young players from underserved communities the opportunity to play collegiate-level baseball.

Speaking as a proud product of an HBCU — Tennessee State University — MLB hit it head on capturing the essence of of HBCUs and all that their baseball programs have to offer.

High school students gained valuable information about the college admission process from over 20 colleges and universities during the MLB Urban Invitational College Fair.

Grammy and Tony Award-winning artist Jennifer Holliday performed “America the Beautiful” before the Prairie A&M-Texas Southern contest Saturday evening.

Texas Southern drum majors ushered in the “Ocean of Soul” marching band onto the field at Minute Maid Park during the Battle of the Bands competition.





Why does it be called the Urban Invitational? Schools like Prairie View and Grambling is rural. Is you trying to imfer that African-Americans only come from urban areas?

I watched the games on MLB Network. There were only about 200 people in the stands. It would have been easy for a kid to get 20 foul balls a game.

Who won the tournament?

It’s called the Urban Invitational because it was hosted by the Urban Youth Academy.

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