Youth Academy hosts golf tourney

Celebs, former greats hit links to help support urban program

Actor James Van Der Beek poses with Major League Baseball executive vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon. (Darren Smith/

MLB Headlines

CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. — More than 100 participants, including 20 former Major Leaguers, helped raise nearly $100,000 in the third annual MLB Urban Youth Academy Celebrity Golf Tournament on Friday at Industry Hills Golf Club.The tournament, which matched a celebrity with every foursome, featured former players such as Frank Robinson, Rod Carew, Reggie Smith, Rudy Law, Dave Stewart, Ken Landreaux, Bobby Grich and Al Downing. Actor James Van Der Beek and former NFL wide receiver John Jackson were among the other celebrities on hand.

“I’m really happy right now that, even with the economy downturn right now, we could net more than $100,000,” said MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon. “It’s a fantastic thing in light of all that’s going on in our country and across the world. I guess it goes to show that people, no matter how tough times are, that kids are our future.”

The money raised will go directly to the Urban Youth Academy, which was created in 2006 and is located on more than 15 acres of the campus of El Camino College in Compton, Calif.

“This money in particular will go to lights on the Little League fields, because we’re making some huge improvements,” said academy executive director Darrell Miller. “But it will also go to our programs like the Urban Invitational and the Breakthrough Series. We want to keep those programs going.”

The Urban Youth Academy currently has four fields and a 12,000 square-foot clubhouse, but the youth field doesn’t have any lights. The academy also hosts many tournaments and showcases such as the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series.

Many of the former players said they were happy to contribute to the academy because of its role with helping children in the inner cities through baseball.

“We’re out here raising money for the kids,” said Landreaux, who played in the Majors for 11 seasons and currently is one of the instructors at the academy. “The one thing about the academy is that it’s a non-profit. We’ve got to be self-sufficient.”

Robinson, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, was the host of the event, which also featured a silent auction, a live auction and a raffle.

“It’s my honor and privilege to be the host,” said Robinson, who also hosted the tournament last year. “It’s a lot of fun, and any time they want me to be a host, I’m willing to do it. It’s for a good cause.”

The tournament is just one of many fundraisers for the academy, but according to Miller, this one is the most fun.

“This is phenomenal because it marries the mission of the Urban Youth Academy with having fun,” Miller said. “This is kind of our year-end party, if you will. It’s fun to see the dream taking shape.”

Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its club


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