Experience Baseball explores the Decline of African Americans in Baseball with Lost Boyz, Bases Empty

“Do you know the TWO biggest reasons for the decline in African Americans in baseball?” Eric Davis asked a group of twenty-five baseball fans at US Cellular Field on Friday.

“Breakfast and Lunch.”

When 75% of our cities’ youth don’t have enough to eat, making the ball team doesn’t really factor into daily existence, Davis said.

Mr. Davis and Miriam Ehrlich are Executive Producer and Producer of Bases Empty, a new documentary film in production that explores the issue of the vast decline in African American participation in baseball over the last 30 years.

As the keynote presentation at Experience Baseball’s Opening Event of the 2014 season, Mr. Davis and Ms. Ehrlich spoke Friday night to baseball fans from the Chicago area, including several members of Chicago’s chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), the Chicago community, and several young captains from the Patriots, Yankees, and Reds of the Lost Boyz Chicago youth baseball circuit.

After screening an extended trailer of the upcoming film, Mr. Davis presented the issue of the decline in African American participation in baseball in the light of the larger economic and socio-political realties of urban youth in Chicago.

“This documentary is about so much more than baseball. This documentary is about fathers,” Davis said.

Davis explained that for every young person in the room, there should be a father present not just to teach children how to throw a curveball, but also to live, study, work, and play in today’s America.

Of course it’s a two-way street, said Davis. And for every young boy from Chicago’s hardest neighborhoods that should be encouraged to grow into that father, every baseball fan, out of love of the game, should be encouraged to give back to baseball communities by funding youth development services and making efforts to learn and understand the issues that impact the future of baseball and its communities.

Proceeds generated from this event helped to support the tremendous efforts of our long-term community partner, Lost Boyz, Inc.

It was a gorgeous evening for a night at the ballpark. Prior to the game, the boys got a chance to take in the Rays’ batting practice and even scored a couple of signatures from Evan Longoria (who later homered in the game).

Lost Boyz with Evan Longoria baseballs at Experience Baseball event.

Boys showing off their signed Evan Longoria baseballs at the Experience Baseball event at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday.

The White Sox’ José Abreu knocked a two-out walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Rays. On top of all of that, it was fireworks night.

There was a lot of emotion to pack into one evening at the ballpark. But we couldn’t have asked for a better start to Experience Baseball’s sophomore season.

This event couldn’t have been possible without support from the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA), which graciously allowed us the use of the professional conference and learning center at US Cellular and donated tickets along the first base line, where 4 or 5 foul balls bounced into or over our heads during the game.

We are extremely grateful for the participation of Mr. Davis and Ms. Ehrlich from Bases Empty. For the tremendous passion behind their project, as well as for the trust and interest in our own young effort. Please check out their trailer and support them by sharing what they’re doing with other fans.

And as always, the love and support from Lost Boyz’ President and Founder LaVonté Stewart, and the entire Lost Boyz team, continue to humble and inspire us. To all the friends from Lost Boyz who participated on Friday, we thank them for the trust they put in us, and always for the incredible work they do on the ground every day to improve the lives of future generations of baseball players and fans along Chicago’s South Shore.

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