Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

MLB Notebook: Commissioner Rob Manfred Says Royals' Urban Youth Academy Is 'Model' for Others

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

MLB Notebook: Commissioner Rob Manfred Says Royals' Urban Youth Academy Is 'Model' for Others

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals are defending World Series champions, having built their way to the top from the ground up. But there is another project going on in Kansas City that they hope will be a big success.

Last week, the Royals and Major League Baseball officials broke ground on the MLB Urban Youth Academy behind the Negro Leagues Museum at Parade Park in Kansas City, Mo. The academy is geared toward teaching kids ages 6 to 18 baseball and softball as well as life skills.

Royals catcher Salvador Perez donated $1 million, Alex Gordon donated $750,000 and right-handed pitcher Chris Young also gave money to the project that will include four ballfields and an educational resource center.

The project is being led by Royals general manager Dayton Moore, and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said during his recent trip to Kauffman Stadium that the Royals are setting the standard.

"Kansas City is a little microcosm of what we would like to achieve with respect to youth participation," Manfred said. "The Royals have really stepped up in terms of the Urban Youth Academy that's going to be built here. Obviously there's great tradition with the Negro Leagues Museum here and it is baseball's effort to make the game available in areas where kids otherwise may not have the opportunity to play.

"So if we can get 30 of them, it looks like with the model that we have going here in Kansas City, we'll be in great shape."

The Royals will cover the operating expense of the academy and youth can participate at no cost. The first phase of the academy is set to open this fall.

MLB's first Urban Youth Academy was founded in 2006 in Compton, Calif., and there are academies in other cities, including Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington and San Francisco.

BASEBALL IN CUBA -- Manfred said the short-term goal of Major League Baseball is to make sure Cuban players can come to the United States, sign with a major league team, play professional baseball and return home safely.

"We want to get out of the business or get out of the situation where players are forced to take risks, risk their lives to come here and play. I'd like to get that immigration system rationalized.

"Long term, the overwhelming impression is that Cuba is one of those countries where baseball is deeply embedded into the culture. …

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