by Chevont’e Alexander
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” ~Jackie Robinson
It is not too often you meet someone whose energy is contagious, and their leadership in their community is felt for generations. It is not too often you meet someone who shapes lives of young men through sports, and their knowledge of baseball is a true gift to the community.
Decked out in their gray and yellow uniforms and gloves, bat, and ball in hand, the Mosby Spartans baseball team are ready to put on a good game, playing the national pastime of baseball. The team practices weekly at Lucks Field in Battery Park, an area in Richmond that is all too familiar with the game of baseball, or until four years ago, used to be.
Four years ago, Coach Lawrence Day had a mission and vision of bringing baseball back to Church Hill. It started with spreading the word, knocking on doors, getting young boys signed up, the community on board, and excited to play and support the game of baseball. The Mosby Spartans include children from Fairfield and Mosby housing projects in the city of Richmond.
“Forty years ago, baseball is all I knew. Anyone over 40 years old would tell you, all you had to do was to go to church, school, and play baseball”, says Coach Lawrence Day.
Coach Day is the head coach for the Mosby Spartans baseball team in Church Hill. Coach Day currently works for Richmond Public Schools and the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. His role on the field and in the classroom has been extremely instrumental in teaching our young boys how to become men through the game of baseball. Coach Day has played baseball all of his life, playing little league baseball in Battery Park as a child, playing at the collegiate level at Norfolk State University, and even playing for the Washington Park Blue Sox, a semi-pro team.
“Baseball has been so good to me, and now it is my opportunity to give back to the game,” comments Day.
Battery Park was the only Black baseball field in Richmond a long time ago. So, the city has come a long way in developing a baseball program for Richmond youth to participate in. The City of Richmond’s Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities provides the equipment and maintains the fields for the Richmond City League.
The Metropolitan Junior Baseball League came to Richmond in the mid 1960s, but still Blacks were not afforded the opportunities to play like they are today.
“Without this game, we [African-Americans] would not be playing basketball, football, or any sport. Jackie Robinson was our Barack Obama. He broke the color barrier,” comments Coach Day.
With the game of baseball, Coach Day teaches his players everything about the game of baseball, from covering bases to life skills. Playing a sport is all about structure and discipline.
“You have to be on time for practice, just like you would a job…if you do not come to practice, you do not get paid on the job. These kids have to understand how the system works,” comments Day.
When players step on the Lucks Field or anywhere, they know Coach Day expects nothing less than respect, discipline, and structure on his team. Coach Day is teaching life lessons through a ball and a bat.
A child’s activity outside of the classroom can assist them inside the classroom as well. There is no doubt that sports helps kids in school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all kids get an hour of physical activity each day. This physical activity has health benefits and improves the child’s performance in school.
The Mosby Spartans consists of 82 players, ranging from age 5 to 15 years old, that play in T-ball, machine pitch, minor, major, and junior teams. Many of the players play for the recreation team and their local high school, so Coach Day has the opportunity of really growing and teaching the players as they go on to the next level. Once the players join the team, Coach Day makes sure they come back to play the following year to help develop them as a person and as a baseball player.
Last year, some players from the Mosby Spartans had the opportunity to be invited to play in the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League Inner City Classic in Orlando, Florida. Coach Day served as the All Start Team head coach. The team spent five days in Orlando.
“Many of these kids have not even been to Southside, let alone out of the state. Baseball allows the opportunity for these kids to experience things they normally would not have the chance to do,” says Day.
The Metropolitan Junior Baseball League Inner City Classic will be held this year in Richmond in July, and the Mosby Spartans are excited again to show off their talent to some of the best teams around the world. For more information about the MJBL Inner City Classic, please visit: www.mjbl.org.
Coach Lawrence Day comments that the Mosby Spartans team could not have come this far without great support from community partners. He gives credit to Assistant Coach Floyd “Peanut” Brown for his hard work and commitment to the baseball program. The Mosby Spartans want to especially thank Martin’s Food Stores and Vicki Kiger, Martin’s Community Relations Coordinator, for their donation of purchasing the team’s new uniforms this season.
“Martin’s is delighted to sponsor the Mosby Spartans. Coach Day does a wonderful job with the kids, not only teaching them the great game of baseball, but he gives them personal support, instills discipline, while providing a foundation for leadership and character building skills. We hope that our support will encourage other companies and individuals in Richmond to support the Spartans.” comments Kiger.
They would like to also thank Mosby Spartans fans, parents, and the community for the great support. Shirletha Robinson, Patricia Nealey, and Dion Patillo are the mothers of the team and great volunteers that make sure the team has everything they need. Tyreek Waajid and Wallace Parham from the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities also play an instrumental role with this team.
Coach Day has taught all of us that baseball is so much more than a home run, or baseball bat or glove; but, it’s a culture that brings communities together, creates opportunities unimaginable, and helps make boys into men.
Indeed, Jackie Robinson would be proud.