Astros to Open Baseball Academy in Houston

Over the last two decades there's been a steady decline in the number of African-American players in major league baseball. Today the Astros and local politicians announced they're starting a new baseball academy in north Houston that they hope will bring those numbers up and also improve the lives of kids living in the area. Bill Stamps has more.
Baseball is called America's pastime, but recently in the black community some say it has actually passed its time. No one really seems to know why. For some reason more black athletes have turned to football and basketball. While the media and former athletes debate the reason for this, major league baseball is trying to change that.
 
Astros announcer: "Welcome at the Houston Astros LB baseball academy at Sylvester Turner park."
 
With a lot of help from State Representative Sylvester Turner, the Astros have announced they're starting a new baseball academy at Sylvester Turner park in North Houston. Mayor Bill White spoke at the announcement ceremony.
 
"This is a classic example of what it is to build for the future, invest in our kids, invest in our community."
 
Back in the 70's Enos Cabell was the lead off hitter for the Astros. There were much more black baseball players then than now and Cabell believes some of it has to do with the condition of parks and the community.
 
"The parks, where we play now, a lot of them have been infested with drug dealers, people off the street, places where it wasn't safe for the kids to play anymore and where you see here is the changing of it."
 
(Astros announcer)
 
These days young black kids see players like Vince Young on television and can't wait to play for Texas or Oklahoma. But few think of college baseball.
 
Astro Coach Cecil Cooper thinks starting baseball academies in the inner city is a step in the right direction.
 
"I think it's changing…changing slowly, but these are steps in the right direction and I think we need to continue to do this not only here in Houston but throughout the country and it sounds like that's what major league baseball is trying to do."
 
Bill Stamps...KUHF Houston Public Radio News.