By Thomas Sellers Jr.
From the USA Olympic teams to hosting the NJCAA World Series, some of the best from Frank Thomas to Alex Rodriguez have swung their bats near the home plate in Millington, Tenn.
Now the National Urban Professional Baseball League is ready to write a new chapter in the legacy of USA Stadium.
“I saw the stadium and thought this is a perfect fit,” Michael E. “The Coach” Mayden said. “I reached out and got an immediate reply back from Johnny. Everything else has been going forward positively.”
The conversation with USA Stadium Director Johnny Ray led to the contract signing between Mayden and Millington Mayor Terry Jones April 4.
Joining the ceremony and celebration hosted by the Millington Area Chamber of Commerce were Millington Aldermen Thomas McGhee, Larry Dagen, Al Bell and Don Lowry. Also present were longtime USA Stadium employees and supporters Jim Music and NJCAA Hall of Famer Tommy Rogers.
The news brought out Millington Arts and Recreation’s Mark Healy and the city of Millington’s Kate Armitage, John Trusty and Ed Haley.
The NUPBL’s arrival is big news for the city and USA Stadium Complex located off Babe Howard Blvd. because 45 of the 90 games on the schedule will be played in Millington.
The NUPBL, based out of Chicago, will be featured in four cities across America. At the time of the contract signing in Millington, two other locations were known with Smith-Well Stadium in Jackson, Miss., and Desoto High School of Desoto, Texas.
“It’s professional baseball targeting players 17 and old who have completed their high school eligibility,” Mayden said. “We’re giving ball players a chance to live out their dreams of playing professional baseball as well helping to diversify baseball. Helping to have more minority participation.”
The name of the teams in the league will reflect that of past Negro League players like Rube Foster All-Stars, Satchel Paige All-Stars and Josh Gibson All-Stars. The League is not limited to only African-American players.
The NUPBL is seeking out the best baseball players form across the United States and across the world regardless of ethnic background.
“We want this team to capture the hearts and souls of the people of Tennessee and most importantly the hearts and the souls of the people of Millington and the surrounding communities,” Mayden concluded. “We are looking for excitement, enthusiasm and support for this team from the East, the West, the North and the South.”
NUPBL will play ball in May 2018. The season will last until August with teams playing 6 games a week. USA Stadium will play host to 15 three-game series.