Categorized | News, Sports

Batting Order: NUPBL host networking event with city of Millington

By Thomas Sellers Jr.
NUBPL Dr. Janice Little NUBPL group shot NUBPL Robbie swing

Millington Mayor Terry Jones makes contact on a Johnny Ray offering inside the Holiday Inn Express in Millington as part of the National Urban Baseball Professional League networking event last week.

Millington Mayor Terry Jones makes contact on a Johnny Ray offering inside the Holiday Inn Express in Millington as part of the National Urban Baseball Professional League networking event last week.

Before the first rison bag is picked up and tossed about, or the first batter stepping into the box at USA Stadium waiting to hear those two words from the umpire, members of the National Urban Professional Baseball League “Played Ball” in a conference room.
First up to home plate was Millington Mayor Terry Jones last Tuesday inside the Millington Holiday Inn Express. Dressed in his business suit, Jones was the leadoff hitter for a lineup featuring Debbie Jones, Judy Werner, Robbie Spearman, Lillie Stollings and Johnny Ray. Even NUPBL presenters Dr. Janice Little and Selina Simmons joined the Nerf-pitch found during the networking session.
The NUPBL invited guested spent the morning introducing themselves, explaining their business connections, learning about the league more and eventually playing a little indoor whiffle ball.
The NUPBL is looking to form a solid relationship with area businesses and entities like Belhaven University, Patriot Bank, Dairy Queen, City of Millington and Millington Area Chamber of Commerce.
Since the announcement back in spring of the arrival of the professional baseball league, USA Stadium’s Ray has been working along side representative of the NUPBL in preparations for the May 2018 Opening Day.
“This is truly a welcoming partnership,” Little said. “We have enjoyed working with them thus far. Johnny Ray and his crew has been very hospitable with showing us what the Stadium has to offer. As well as being very supportive of what we have envision with the League growing. The community overall has been very welcoming as well.
“The community partners that have appeared here with the networking events, they have been very supportive,” she added, “and open to being creative in building the partnerships with supporting the leagues as we continue.”
USA Stadium is no stranger to quality baseball in it’s nearly 40 year history. First home of the American Legion, the Stadium hit the world map in 1985 acquiring the USA National team.
USA Stadium was home for the 1988, 1992 and 1996 USA Olympic Baseball teams.
Over the years the Stadium has played host to Division I, NJCAA World Series, Southwest Tennessee and postseason high school baseball.
“It was very well received and very much needed for us to have a tenant that is going to be here and be a part of the community,” Ray said. “They will engage in the community and bring a style of baseball that we hope will be very well received.
“Adding on to the history of what we have to this point, will definitely be a legacy of starting all over with some people trying to get a second chance to play and further their baseball,” he continued. “We’re very excited of the opportunity.”
The NUPBL will call 4351 Babe Howard Blvd. home next year. The Millington team will play 45 of its 90 game schedule in Flag City. The NUPBL is based out of Chicago and will be featured in four cities across America.
Little said the Memphis market needs a reminder of what baseball has to offer. She is hoping the family atmosphere of Millington will help the NUPBL reach all generations.
“It’s a small, close knit community to where you can get in and build positive relationships,” she said. “And plus we want to be able to preserve the Negro League history, provide the support we need on a grassroots level, honoring them and continuing their legacy.”
Ray said USA Stadium is ready to do its part in showcasing the NUPBL and add to the rich history of the facility.
“About 20 years ago, we were the hub for amateur baseball,” he recalled. “We had the many USA teams that came through. We had future Major Leaguers, future All-Stars, future Hall of Famers. We’ve worked really hard to keep that going.
“Our staff is really built to provide a great environment and facility to play in,” Ray concluded. “The best thing we’ve done is be hospitable. Not only with the National Urban League, but anybody who comes in.”
The NUPBL comes into USA Stadium for an exhibition weekend Aug. 4-6. For more information, visit www.millingtonprobaseball.com, www.urbanbaseball247.com, or call 972-546-8894.

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