Astros Dedicate Urban Training Facility

In response to the lack of little league baseball fields in Houston's inner city, the Astros and Major League Baseball teamed up with a local politician to build a state of the art baseball complex, which opened a year ago. Today they held a ribbon cutting for an addition to that complex — a new training center with batting cages. Bill Stamps has more.

The new 4,000 sq ft facility is called the Jimmy Wynn Training Center, named after the man who played 11 seasons for the Astros.  

Here how Astros announcer Milo Hamilton describes him:

"The toy cannon. If there was ever a baseball nickname that fit, if fit Jimmy Wynn. Not very big, but when you saw where he hit the balls in the Astrodome, you knew that he truly was a toy cannon."

The new training center is located in Sylvester Turner Park  in north Houston. It has artificial turf and two batting cages, allowing little leaguers to work on their skills.

Jimmie Lee Solomon is Major League Baseball’s  exec vice president for development. He says the urban academy and the new training center are a godsend for kids in the area.

"We must provide hope. The worst kind of poverty, you can leave a child the poverty of no hope, and this is a catalyst that goes a long way in making things right."

The Astros, major league baseball and Minute Maid helped with the finances. It was State Representative Sylvester Turner who helped bring all the parties together. This is Turner.

"To the Astros, every now and then you may not win a game at Minute Maid, but I want you to know with this facility, with the Urban Youth Academy, you are winning every single day in the hearts and minds of these kids every single day."

In one year, the youth academy has register 700 kids to play baseball. Besides making them better players, the goal of the academy also is to make sure all of the kids graduate from high school.