• 'Week with Baseball Legends' to bring baseball history to Jacksonville's kids

    By: Letisha Bereola, Action News Jax


    Several local organizations gathered at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Thursday to announce a partnership to bring more opportunities to local kids.

    The partnership is about more than just baseball. It’s about encouraging kids to turn away from the streets and get involved in something positive and expose them to the rich history of baseball right in the River City.

    During the Jim Crow era, Hank Aaron played for the Jacksonville Suns, overcoming tremendous barriers. He was one of the first black players in the South Atlantic league.

    City leaders and organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters want to expose kids to this kind of groundbreaking history, hoping they will be inspired to pick up a bat one day. 

    “This really hits home in our community and gets into those areas that really need help,” said Alan Verlander, the COO for the JaxSports Council.

    A huge fundraiser was announced Thursday. The goal: raise $100,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters and to buy baseball equipment for inner city kids.

    Plus, there will be a week full of events that will teach children about the history of the Negro Leagues in Jacksonville.

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    “We’ve got to bridge the past with the present and the future. If we are not doing that, as every citizen in the community, we are really missing out on what I think we are called to do,” Verlander said.

    There will also be a baseball clinic with former major league players and a movie night that will premiere “42,” a movie about the life of Jackie Robinson.

    It’s push for kids to look at the role models who came before them and strive for greatness, all packed into one week and rooted in America’s favorite pastime.

    “To be able to say, you know what that event, or that weeklong event, made a difference 5 years from now we’ll see the benefits from that,” Verlander said.

    The events will be September 17-24. There will be a lot of developments on how to sign up throughout the summer. You can count on Action News Jax to bring you those details when they are available.

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