Baseball fans throughout the Philadelphia area will have the chance to take swings from home plate at the 16th annual Richie Ashburn Memorial Home Runs for Heart on May 6 and 7 (8 a.m to 4:30 p.m.) making them the first amateur sluggers to take a spot on the soil of since last season. The American Heart Association event was designed to give ordinary citizens the opportunity to live out their major league dreams. It made its debut in 1997, after the sudden passing of Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, who succumbed to heart disease. In addition, the event also honors long time Phillies announcer Harry Kalas, who died of heart disease in 2009.
The event is held each year at Citizens Bank Park. Home Runs for Heart is a derby contest (batting only) that enables participants to step up to home plate and swing for the fences. After batting and catching fly balls in the outfield or “shagging” participants can visit the Phillies clubhouse, take a tour of the facility, pose for pictures with the Phillies ball girls and meet the Phillie Phanatic. In addition, the team, individual man and individual woman with the most home runs and the most points (based on distance) will receive prizes and special recognition.
Proceeds from Home Runs for Heart benefit the local research and community education efforts of the American Heart Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania. For more information, go to www.heart.org/phillywalk and click on Home Runs for Heart.
Local athlete wins national award
Josue Falu from George Washington High School has won a National Athleadership Grant sponsored by NCSA Athletic Recruiting and the NFLPA. Receiving this award is a big honor, one that is only given to a select number of student athletes throughout the country in all sports from football to track. The grant is awarded to student athletes who qualify based on leadership in their commuity, academic achievement, athletics and a required essay written by the student athlete.
As a result of Falu’s selection as the recipient of this Athleadership Grant, NCSA Athletic Recruiting will work with him and his family throughout his high school career and assist him in finding a collegiate institution that best matches his academic and athletic achievements. NCSA Athletic Recruiting is the nation’s premier “athletic recruiting network” and leadership platform for student athletes to get connected with collegiate scholarships, internships and careers.
There aren’t many books that go deep into the rich history of Negro League baseball and independent Black baseball. Bob May has written a book, “The Best Season: The First Ninety Games” (Dog Ear Publishing; $26.95) that provides a lot of information on the true African-American pioneers of baseball.
The book honors 21 outstanding players from the Negro Leagues. May also puts together a simulated game with the top Black baseball players against their counterparts from the majors using well researched statistics to support his efforts.
This book, and a second one May has started, highlights 15 nine-game series against 16 original post-1900 teams (the Braves and Pirates combine). In addition, he has two 15-game All-Star series and a postseason six-team playoff from the 15 nine-game series.
The book also includes bios on the legendary baseball greats such as Josh Gibson, Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Oscar Charleston, Raleigh “Biz” Mackey, Judy Johnson, James “Cool Papa” Bell, John “Pop” Lloyd, Norman “Turkey” Stearnes, Willie Wells, Monte Irvin, Leon Day, Martin Dihigo, Walter “Buck” Leonard, Ray Dandridge, William Foster, Alvin Spearman and others.
The book is a real tribute to Negro League baseball. It helps to preserve the great legacies of the game during the early years. The book gives the reader a chance to learn about these magnificent baseball players and the teams they played on like the Philadelphia Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, Newark Eagles, Baltimore Elite Giants, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Homestead Grays, Hilldale Daisies, Chicago American Giants and many other great Negro League teams.
“The Best Season: The First Ninety Games” is loaded withn facts, figures and biographical information that clearly shows how great these were from Negro Leagues performed over the years. For more information on the book, go to www.honoringblackballbookone.net.
ESPN Outside the Lines will have a story on Kevin Krigger, the second African-American jockey, to ride in the Kentucky Derby since 1921. The show will air on May 3 at 3 p.m. Krigger will ride Goldencents, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby, which happens to be co-owned by Rick Pitino, the University of Louisville’s head basketball coach. Pitino guided the Cardinals to the NCAA championship last month. The 139th Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs will be held on May 4.
Eagles agree to terms with nine rookie free agents
The Philadelphia Eagles have completed its 90-man roster agreeing to tersm with nine rookie free agents: linebacker Jake Knott (Iowa State), running back Miguel Maysonet (Stony Brook), center Kyle Quinn (Arizona), defensive lineman Isaac remington (Oregon), wide receiver Russell Shepard (LSU), defensive lineman Damion Square (Alabama), guard Matt Tobin (Iowa), running back Matthew Tucker (TCU) and punter Brad King (LSU).
Temple football standouts sign free agent contracts
Montel Harris, Temple University’s All-American running back, and defensive end John Youboty have signed rookie free agent contracts with NFL teams. Harris joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Youboty signed with the Denver Broncos. They join Owls placekicker/punter Brandon McManus (Indianapolis Colts) and offensive lineman Martin Wallace (Cleveland Browns) as signed rookie free agents this spring.
HBCU players sign rookie free agent contracts
Several football players from historically Black colleges and universities have signed rookie free agent contracts.
Atlanta Falcons — Brandon Thurmond, LB, Arkansas-Pine Bluff; Terren Jones, OT, Alabama State; Saeed Lee, DB, Alabama State; Kejuan Riley, FS, Alabama State
Baltimore Ravens — Rogers Gaines, OT, Tennessee State; Andre Kates, DB, Virginia Union
Arizona Cardinals — Jamal Johnson Webb, OL, Alabama A&M; Padric Scott, DL, Florida A&M
Buffalo Bills —Vernon Kearney, CB, Lane; Keith Pough, LB, Howard
Dallas Cowboys — Jakar Hamilton, FS, South Carolina State
Detroit Lions — Travis Tarpley, WR, Delaware State
New York Jets — K.J. Stroud, WR, Bethune-Cookman; Brian Smith, DB, Virginia Union
Kansas City Chiefs — Kaderius Lacey, RB, Alabama A&M; Rico Richardson, WR, Jackson State
New York Giants — Justin Blash, DT, Albany State; Jordan Mosely, OL, Johnson C. Smith
New Orleans Saints — Nathan Hoyte, RB, Albany State
Oakland Raiders — Kentrell Harris, DE, Virginia Union; Greg Jenkins, QB, Alabama State
San Francisco 49ers — Sherman Carter, OL, Tennessee State
Seattle Seahawks — O’Hara Fluellen, DB, Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Mo.); Jajuan Harley, S, Tennessee State
Eagles single-game and SRO tickets go on sale May 9
The Philadelphia Eagles single-game tickets will go on sale for all 10 home games for this season on Thursday, May 9 at 10 a.m. Fans can buy tickets at that time by going to www.philadelphiaeagles.com, Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. The prices range from $75 -$105 and there is a four-ticket limit per household.
It’s a busy time for the Philadelphia Eagles. Last week, the team made its NFL draft selections. Next week, the Eagles will hold rookie camp. After that, they have OTAs (organized team activities ) the following week.
Yet despite the hectic schedule, Eagles defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron and linebacker Mychal Kendricks found time to spend with some local chess students.
Cameron and Kendricks participated in the 10th annual Eagles Chess Tournament held Tuesday at Lincoln Financial Field’s SCA Club. They were matched up against some of Philadelphia’s best chess players. The event was sponsored by ASAP (After School Activities Partnerships) and the Eagles Youth Partnership. More than 230 chess players from ASAP’s Philadelphia Youth Chess Challenge in grades (2-12) were at the event.
“This is great,” Cameron said. “I grew up playing chess. Chess is one of those games where you see so many different aspects on the chess board and translates to life. I think it definitely helps me out on the football field. So, it’s great. It’s great to have the tournament for the kids.”
Arlen Roberts, an eighth grader at Overbrook Educational Center, had a chance to play a couple of games against Cameron. Roberts showcased some of his brilliant chess moves, which has made him a sesnational player. He was very impressed with Cameron’s ability to move the pieces on the chess board.
“He’s a good player,” Roberts said. “He had a couple of good moves. It’s fun. It’s a great experience to play against a professional Eagle player. I’ve been playing for four years. My dad taught me how to play chess. Chess is fun. It’s a thinking and strategy game. I go to tournaments and meet new people. It’s fun.”
Kendricks had a good time playing chess against some of these bright young players.
“Anything like this is great for the kids,” Kendricks said. “Any type of extracurricular activity like this keeps their minds stimulated. It’s actually a lot of correlations with chess and football. You have to think a couple of steps before you make that move like what’s coming and what to look for. I just think playing chess with these kids means a lot.”
In addition to meeting and competing against the players, the students participated in four rounds of competition and took part in an awards ceremony in the Eagles’ locker room.
Ramon Flanigan, former Division I offensive coordinator for Mississippi Valley State, has been named the new head football coach at Lincoln University. Flanigan replaces coach Olabanija (O.J.) Abanishe after five seasons as the Lions’ second head coach in its NCAA Division II era.
“I’m excited for multiple reasons,” Flanigan said. “First, this is a place where you can be successful. Also to have an opportunity to be a head football coach. I’m just 38 years old. I’m very humble, honestly, because a lot of guys been in the business a long time and didn’t get the opportunity. I’m going to enjoy the journey. There’s a lot of hard work to do. But I’m going to enjoy the journey and the process.”
Flanigan comes to Lincoln from MVSU and the University of North Texas as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He has also assisted with academic and other administrative duties, and worked three years for the Delta Devils football program under head coach Karl Morgan. Prior to his stint at MVSU, he spent the 2008 season as the wide receivers’ coach at Prestonwood Christian Academy and was the quarterbacks’ coach at Galveston Ball High School in 2009.
Before he gained plenty of coaching experience at the scholastic level, he spent eight years as an assistant coach at the University of North Texas — five as the program’s offensive coordinator. He helped the Mean Green put together 3,699 total yards, at the time the highest total since 1994. In the second year, he improved the offense to 4,257 total yards of offense and a scoring average of 27.5 points per game, which was also the best for North Texas since 1994. During the 2005 season, Flanigan’s offense posted more than 4,000 total yards of offense for the second time in school history. While serving as offensive coordinator under then-head coach Darrell Dickey, North Texas won four consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships and made four postseason bowl appearances.
Lincoln is a member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The CIAA is one of the best Division II conferences in the country. In addition, Lincoln battles arch-rival Cheyney University in what is called the “Battle of the Firsts.” This football classic features the two oldest Black colleges in the country each year.