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« Will Middlebrooks learn? Will the Red Sox? | Main | What has Adam Jones been doing since he's not walking? »
Wednesday
Jun262013

The Annual Summer Inner City Classic

This past weekend we held a fundraiser in Chicago, our summer version of Hot Stove, Cool Music that we have in Boston every January. It is for Paul and Theo Epstein’s Foundation to be Named Later, which benefits several non-profits in Boston, and now with the help of the Chicago Cubs works with the Cubs charities.

The concert was held at The Metro, an incredible venue run by Joe Shanahan across from Wrigley. We had our gathering of outstanding Boston musicians put together by Ed Valauskus, and while I appreciate the pictures of me singing and playing my Strat that Julio Borbon tweeted out, I’m sticking to the day job.

One of the highlights was our first annual Summer Inner City Classic. The Boston Astros from the South End Baseball League—the nation’s largest free league, with more than 50 inner city kids now playing college ball—played the Allstars from the Jackie Robinson West program in Chicago. Flawless baseball, no errors, four double plays, Astros won in extra innings, on the University of Chicago Inner Circle field subsidized by Curtis Granderson. The NCAA has made a conscious effort to keep poor urban kids from playing college baseball, but with men like Robert Lewis running programs like the Astros and South End Baseball, the urban dream lives.

One of the spectators was M.C. Johnson, who in the Sixties played for the Kansas City Monarchs. Johnson now works from the City of Chicago, but he once played with and against Satchel Paige, and shared this story.

“In 1961, Satchel was retired but we played a couple of exhibitions with him,” said Johnson. “The first one was in Wichita. They told us to strike out as much as possible. We argued, but they said, ‘look up in the stands. There’s twenty-something thousand fans in the stands. They’re here to see Satchel. So make sure he gives them the show they paid for."

“So we struck out."

“Three days later we played in Kansas City, but this time, they told us to go ahead and hit him. You know what happened? We all still struck out.”

Four years later, the Kansas City Royals brought back Satchel Paige to face the Red Sox in a regular season game. He shut them out on one hit for three innings.

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