LES Youth Baseball League Teams Up with MLB to Help Grow Local Sports

By Serena Solomon on May 10, 2013 8:53am 

 The Lower East Side Sports Academy is launching its partnership with Major League Baseball at an event this Saturday, May 10, 2013.
The Lower East Side Sports Academy is launching its partnership with Major League Baseball at an event this Saturday, May 10, 2013.
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The Lower East Side Sports Academy

LOWER EAST SIDE — Call it a home run for the LES.

The Lower East Side Sports Academy (LES Sports) is teaming up with Major League Baseball to help ramp up its junior baseball program.

On Saturday, LES Sports, a local nonprofit since 2011, will be launching Major League's Jr. RBI program — Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities — for the Lower East Side with a hit, pitch and run competition, as well as food and entertainment. The partnership is set to bring support and funding to LES Sports' programs providing more equipment, uniforms and a chance to grow.

"A lot of our kids have a lack of role models, single moms, single dads, poor nutrition," said the academy's co-founder and chief financial officer, Ernie Cave, 30. "By using sports, we want to give them a bigger education."

The LES Jr. RBI will cater to children from 6 through to 12 years old with four teams in its three age divisions. Cave expects about 200 sign-ups this year, and while the first game is played this Saturday, Cave said registration won't close until the end of May.

The cost for the season is $40 including everything from insurance to uniforms, he said.

"It doesn't even cover half our costs," said Cave, adding that local businesses and organizations such as Good Old Lower East Sid (GOLES) helped cover the cost.

Saturday's event at Baruch Field at 11 a.m. will include hot dogs, T-shirt giveaways and Major League Baseball’s "Pitch, Hit and Run" competition, which gives winners a chance to compete at the regional level.

For Cave, the partnership with MLB will "facilitate us growing as a program much quicker while assuring families of the quality of the program."

He said LES Sports is currently looking to Harlem RBI as a model for the future. Harlem's program started more than 20 years ago and now includes a multimillion-dollar school, Dream Charter School.

"Being in a team sport where the coaches provide a good moral experience, it has shown to have a lot of benefits for discipline, morals, dedication, hard work," he said.

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