Baseball club grows despite baseball decline in cities
By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Many news reports point out that the interest in baseball is on the decline. However, that’s not the case for the Detroit Braves Youth Baseball Club. Started in 2005, the baseball club has grown to 225 players in four divisions: 14 and under, 13 and under, 12 and under, and 10 and under.
“A lot of our kids are straight baseball players,” said Garrett Street, executive director of Detroit Braves. He adds that some of their youth also play football and basketball.
“Over the last couple of years, interest was on the decrease, but somehow the interest is now on the increase,” Street said. “A lot of kids weren’t exposed until now. They’re beginning to learn from the value and heritage of baseball because of the old Negro League.”
Based at the old Tindal Recreation Center on Seven Mile Road, the Braves have 15 kids on each squad. They play their games at Palmer Park Field on Woodward Avenue and hold their practices at the Tindal Center Field. The Braves play summer league ball in Detroit PAL and the Healthy Kidz League at Lasky Field on Detroit’s east side.
During the spring, the Braves become the Palmer Park Prep Academy Monarchs in the Healthy Kidz/Legends League, competing against 11 other middle schools in DPS.
They also belong to the National Little League, where they have made a name for themselves. This year, the 13 and under team won the Little League District 6 State Championship, the first Black team to do so.
The Braves have also played teams from Macomb County, Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods, and competed at a tournament at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. Their season runs to the end of August.
The current players have many reasons why they like playing baseball.
“I like to play because it keeps me in shape,” said DJuan Reynolds, 11, a student at Cooper Elementary who has been playing baseball since age four.
“It keeps me in shape, and I like sliding everywhere,” said Garrin Blake, 12, a student at Thompson School. “I also enjoy playing soccer and bowling with my baseball.”
“I like hitting the ball and beating the tag of my opponents,” said DeAndre Davis, 12, a student at the DESPA Academy. “I also like running the bases.”
“The games are about fundamentals,” Street said. “We stress the basics, which carries them into high school. A lot of our kids know how to play before they reach high school.”
Because of that emphasis, a lot of high school teams come to scout and recruit Braves players for their prep squads.
“High school coaches and scouts from Cass Tech, Mumford, Renaissance, King and Southfield-Lathrup attend some of our games,” Street explained. “We have ninth and tenth graders playing at those schools; by next year, they should be making their mark.”
He added, “A lot of coaches are glad to have our players on their teams.”
The Braves receive financial support from Wayne County, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, the United Auto Workers and DTE Energy. But the funding doesn’t stop there.
“We plan to have a golf outing in August,” Street said. “We also sell team shirts and have other types of fundraisers. We’re still looking for other sponsors.”
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