Results tagged ‘ Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy ’

The Dream at 50

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Sports bring people together in a way nothing else can, as evidenced by one of baseball’s proudest moments when Jackie Robinson made his debut in 1947, breaking the color barrier.

However, many people may not realize that this momentous occasion occurred seven years before the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision and 16 years before Martin Luther King Jr.’s Great March on Washington, which took place on August 28, 1963.

Fifty years ago today, King delivered his most seminal speech, proclaiming his dream; a message that resonated through the National Mall to the quarter million people in attendance. And while the process of realizing that dream endures, great strides have been made in the last half century. This is especially true in sports, where players of all races and ethnicities stand as teammates and competitors, side-by-side.

Sports can often serve as a catalyst for social change, and baseball is proud to have such a great leader as Robinson as a role model for equality in our game. In his spirit the Washington Nationals are dedicated to continuing to make a positive social impact here in D.C. As part of this commitment, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation invests money and resources to our local community, and will open the doors to the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Ward 7 this fall.

Major League Baseball also carries on the ideals of the Civil Rights Movement through programs such as Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. Likewise, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s mandate to encourage minority hiring for the top positions in the game was the first of its kind in professional sports in 1999, predating the NFL’s Rooney Rule by several years.

So as we pay tribute today to Dr. King and his dream of equality, let us also celebrate the role baseball has played toward equal civil rights in America.

Showing Heart and Hustle

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Ian Desmond has already been named an All-Star and has won a Silver Slugger Award in his career. With a few more plays like the barehanded one he made on Mike Minor’s slow roller last night, he may add a Gold Glove to that register at some point. But tonight, he can take great pride in earning the Heart & Hustle Award, an accolade seemingly created for a player like Desmond, who is growing into a leader both on the field and in the community.

Desmond (third from left) at the groundbreaking of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.

Desmond (third from left) at the groundbreaking of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.

The Annual Heart & Hustle Award recognizes one player on each Major League team who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game. Of the 30 winners from each Major League team, one player will be chosen as the final Heart and Hustle Award recipient, as voted on by the more than 6,000 members of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. This winner will be announced at the Legends for Youth Dinner, held in New York City on November 19, 2013.

“We can’t control results, but we can control what we do off the field,” said Desmond in regards to his work in the community, particularly with the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. “We’re called to do more than just get hits and play defense.”

Former Washington Senator and current Chairman of the Board of the MLBPAA, Jim Hannan will present Desmond with his award on the field prior to Tuesday night’s game vs. Atlanta. Desmond has been the Nationals nominee twice in the past, in both 2010 and 2011. Teammate Kurt Suzuki was also the Oakland Athletics nominee in both of the same years.

For more information on this award, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, and how you too can become a member, please visit

Living the Dream

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The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, set to open in the fall of 2013, will focus on creating an enduring environment for high-quality, after-school and summer programs that integrate baseball, academics and the value of teamwork in a safe environment for youth living in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

Ian Desmond has been supportive of this project every step of the way, becoming a YBA board member and helping the dream of the Academy become a reality.

“We have an opportunity as the Washington Nationals organization to influence young peoples’ lives,” Desmond said. “That’s what we’re called to do. We’re called to make the next generation better than the generation we’re living in now.”

The article Living the Dream from Issue 3 of Nationals Magazine – on sale August 5 – details Desmond’s involvement and gives fans an inside perspective into the life and background of the Nationals shortstop.

For more information on the Youth Baseball Academy or to pledge your support, visit


Krol, Rendon Host PLAY Clinic

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On Tuesday, Nationals trainers and players hosted the PLAY Clinic, in partnership with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and MLB Charities. PLAY, which stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth, is a public awareness campaign founded in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage daily activity among youth.

Rendon pitches during the Home Run Derby.

Rendon pitches during the Home Run Derby.

“Childhood obesity was rising in the early 2000s and they were directly tying Type II diabetes to inactivity with kids,” said PLAY campaign coordinator Zachary Reed, who hopes this clinic will encourage kids to be active for at least 60 minutes each day. “From the year 2000 to the year 2004, it had spiked. About 25% of kids were obese, so the campaign was founded to get kids out for some more activity.”

More than 60 children from Kyle’s Kamp and Ward 7 in Washington, D.C., were on hand at Nationals Park to learn about various topics including healthy eating, injury prevention and strength and conditioning, while also improving their baseball skills.

Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooton Foundation kicked off the clinic with a chalk talk about the dangers of steroid abuse. Head trainer Lee Kuntz then demonstrated proper stretching techniques in the Nationals bullpen to warm up the kids for the day’s activities. Second baseman Anthony Rendon and pitcher Ian Krol also stopped by to share their daily routines with the children, from agility drills to the importance of staying hydrated.

“It’s great that the kids are able to meet the players and see a little bit of what we do throughout the day. We hope to instill those [lessons] and get kids back into baseball,” said Kuntz.

Children were also taught how to stay properly hydrated in the heat.

Children were also taught how to stay properly hydrated in the heat.

“They realized how important it is to get outside and be active,” said Krol. “In this day and age, you see all the kids with electronics like iPads and they don’t get to experience great things like sports and other activities.”

One of those fun activities was their own Home Run Derby, the “grand finale and the fireworks” of the PLAY clinic, as Kuntz described it. For many kids, including the Kelley brothers – Jaden, 8, and Cristopher, 9 – the derby was their favorite part of the day.

It is now their charge to incorporate the invaluable lessons they learned in their everyday lives. “Stay healthy, drink water and eat vegetables,” was Jaden’s key takeaway from speaking with Rendon and Krol.

With the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy expected to open later this fall for youth in Wards 7 and 8, many of these PLAY clinic participants will have the opportunity to continue to learn and practice the fundamentals of baseball and softball while also taking part in health and educational programs.


The Desi And D-Rob Alliance

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Washington and New York have a lot in common.

Where D.C. is the center of governmental power, New York is the hub of the financial world. The District, The Big Apple. Defending champions of the National League East, defending champions of the American League East.

So it’s only fitting for us to partner together for a common cause – to get our deserving candidates to the 2013 All-Star Game, which will, of course, be played in New York. Pooling our collective energy, we hope to land both Ian Desmond and David Robertson into the Midsummer Classic.

DesiDRob3We’ve already detailed for you the many reasons why Desmond should once again be an All-Star. Just as Desmond’s accomplishments have been at times overshadowed by his fellow teammates on the left side of the defense – Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman – so have Robertson’s. After all, it’s hard to be a relief pitcher in pinstripes not named Mariano Rivera.

But Robertson is 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in 39 appearances this season. In 36.1 innings, he has allowed just 23 hits and three home runs while walking 12 and striking out 46.

And for everything these two do on the field, they are both some of the most active off the field in helping their communities as well. Though Desmond doesn’t advertise his charity work, he does, in fact, sit on the board of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, and is one of the strongest forces behind turning the dream of the Academy into a reality. The Academy is set to open its doors for academic programming in the fall, with full baseball clinics beginning next spring.

But what’s the meaning behind Robertson’s #HighSocksForVotes? Well, High Socks For Hope, a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation, was founded by Robertson and his wife Erin after tornadoes ravaged David’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2011. High Socks For Hope’s mission is to lend support to charities and organizations helping those affected by tragedies and to provide humanitarian services for individuals in need.

Of course, D.C. and New York have their differences, too, but those only make them stronger when united. The Nationals fan base is the youngest and one of the fastest-growing in baseball. The Yankees fan base is arguably the largest in the game, with the sport’s longest legacy of winning. Hopefully, by joining forces, we can get two great players – and great men – into the Midsummer Classic.

Vote #DesiIn13 at And while you’re at it, make sure to mark your ballot #HighSocksForVotes too. You can also text N1 and A3 to 89269 to vote for Desmond and Robertson, respectively. Unlimited voting ends July 11 at 4PM ET.

Painting The Town Red

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The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation held its annual Dream Gala this past Saturday evening at Sidney Harman Hall, across the street from the Verizon Center in downtown Washington. The black tie optional affair celebrated the recent ribbon cutting of the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex at Children’s National Medical Center, and looked forward to the opening of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy later this fall. The event included 550 attendees and netted more than $200,000 for the Foundation’s efforts. The Nationals and the Dream Foundation would like to thank all of those who contributed and those who worked hard to help this event come together.

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Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Breaks Ground on Youth Baseball Academy

Tuesday’s sweltering heat didn’t stop the Washington Nationals from celebrating the official groundbreaking for the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Fort DuPont Park. Expected to be completed in the Summer of 2012, the Youth Baseball Academy will be comprised of three baseball fields, and a state-of-the-art athletic and educational facility with classrooms, community rooms, a teaching kitchen and indoor training facilities.

Emceed by MASN play-by-play announcer Bob Carpenter, the groundbreaking ceremony featured a variety of dignitaries, including Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Chair Marla Lerner Tanenbaum; DC Mayor Vincent Gray; Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton; DC Council Chair Kwame Brown; Mickey Fearn from the National Park Service; DC Councilmember Yvette Alexander; William H. Hall and Greg O’Dell from the Washington Convention and Sports Authority and Kimball Elementary School Principal Sheil’a West-Miller.

Nationals Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Rizzo and shortstop Ian Desmond were also among those who spoke about their enthusiasm to provide children with the life skills necessary to become better students, better athletes and better citizens. Other players in attendance to lend their support to the historic event included Danny Espinosa, Jerry Hairston Jr., Adam LaRoche, and Drew Storen who took time out to play catch with children from Kimball Elementary School and Sousa Middle School, the two schools that border the Academy.

With a strong sense of excitement and anticipation for the Academy and its future benefits to the children of Ward 7, dignitaries joined members of the Lerner family and the Nationals to break ground, officially commemorating the beginning of construction of the Youth Baseball Academy.

The ceremony was a culmination of more than five years of planning, fundraising and collaboration between the Nationals and their political, civic and community partners. Modeled on the successful Harlem RBI program, the Academy will provide the children of Ward 7 the guidance, resources and support necessary to become resilient adults.

The Nationals look forward to the bright future that lies ahead.


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