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Black Men Coalition of Dane County getting ready to kick off third season of free youth baseball league

Black Men Coalition is getting set to present the third season of its free youth baseball league.

Baseball can be an expensive sport to play, especially if you are a kid who comes from a low-income family. For many young people, it’s just much easier and more affordable to play basketball or soccer. 

“You have pretty easy access to those sports, basketball and soccer, but sports like baseball and hockey have a cost that comes with it. And it’s not so accessible,” Corey Marionneaux, the founder and CEO of the Black Men Coalition Of Dane County, tells Madison365. “So we just want to level the playing field for all our kids in our community and make it available because there are poor kids of all races and they deserve to be active and enjoy the sport of baseball, as well.”

Two years ago, the Black Men Coalition of Dane County (BMC) introduced its groundbreaking free youth baseball league in Madison in the summer of 2022. And it was a huge hit. This year, it’s back for its third season and continues to grow and get better. During the month of March, the nonprofit is inviting boys and girls ages 4 to 12 from all backgrounds to sign up to participate and learn about the joys of baseball this summer.

Corey Marionneaux

“When we first started this, I did notice that it was a gap that needed to be filled when I started reading articles finding out that in professional baseball, we’ve had the lowest numbers of players who were Black Americans ever in history,” Marionneaux says. “And I just realized there wasn’t a way for our kids to get involved in baseball because of the cost and transportation. So I wanted to go above and beyond and create a situation where not only Black youth can get involved in baseball, but create a community within a community of all kids and all genders to be able to enjoy America’s favorite sport.”

Since its inception, the Black Men Coalition Youth Baseball League has been committed to providing accessible opportunities for children to engage with the sport, regardless of financial barriers. Marionneaux stresses that this is a baseball league where he wants everybody to feel welcome – boys and girls, all races and ethnicities, and all socioeconomic groups.

“Not only is this a league for both boys and girls, but another thing that a lot of people don’t notice about this league is that it is for all races. It’s open to everybody, not just Black kids,” he says. “We are here creating a positive experience and positive environment for our kids. We just want to be able to create a way so that kids can have that opportunity because they didn’t get to choose the household they were born into.

“This was definitely something that is needed in our community and I’m just happy to be a part of it and see it happening,” he adds.

As young people sign up throughout the month of March, they will get to choose from four distinct divisions the league offers tailored to different age groups including:

  • T-Ball: Designed for 4 to 5-year-olds. T-Ball introduces young players to the fundamentals of the game in a supportive environment where the focus is on learning and enjoyment.
  • Coach Pitch: Catering to 6 to 7-year-olds. Machine pitch emphasizes both offensive and defensive skills, providing players with essential techniques to further their baseball journey. 
  • Rookie League: Geared towards 8 to 10-year-olds. The Rookie League delves deeper into baseball rules and regulations, introducing elements of competitive play such as umpiring, strikeouts, and more. 
  • AAA Baseball: Aimed at 10 to 12-year-old players. AAA Baseball represents a more competitive level while still prioritizing fun and player development. Participants have the opportunity to explore various positions, with some beginning to specialize as they refine their skills.

    The Black Men Coalition of Dane County’s Youth Baseball League gives kids of all backgrounds a chance to learn the love of baseball.

Through the generous support of sponsors and volunteers, the free youth baseball league offers free registration, equipment, and uniforms to all participants. The Black Men Coalition of Dane County encourages community members to support this initiative through sponsorship packages, furthering the organization’s mission to make baseball accessible to all youth in the region.

“We’re looking for a team sponsors. We looking for one league sponsor and we’re looking for division sponsors. The business sponsorships are $10,000. A lead sponsor is $25,000 and a team sponsor is $5,000,” Marionneaux says. “And we’re always looking for anybody who’s willing to contribute that comes from our community or any other community. We’re looking for umpires and assistant coaches, for example.

“We’re looking for volunteers that are willing to barbecue because we barbecue hotdogs and cheeseburgers and we feed the kids for free every Saturday,” he adds. “And we give them chips and waters and juices, as well.”

Registration for the upcoming season is now open and will continue until April 1. Families are encouraged to sign up for news and updates to receive timely information regarding registration and league details. 

Opening day is scheduled to be Saturday, May 25 and the league will run until July 27. Opening day will include a ceremonial first pitch, the distribution of uniforms and equipment, and a showcase game between two of the league’s premier AAA teams. 

Last year, the league had about 350 kids participating, and Marionneaux says he expects close to 400 this year. Marionneaux once again stresses the April 1st deadline to sign up.

“Come April 1, we have to send out to get the uniforms made and we put the kids’ names on the back of the uniforms and we have to have enough time to get the uniforms back before May 25 which is our big day where we give our uniforms out and our equipment. [Maynard the] Mallard Duck will be there and there will be all kinds of festival activities where everybody gets to reunite and friends get to see friends that they haven’t seen all year. It’s just an amazing day.

“That day will come fast. We’re looking to get the word out early because we’re hoping to get almost 400 kids signed up this year.”

To register or learn more about BMC’s youth baseball league, click here.