Friday, June 24, 2011

Everyone is welcome to the 2011 College Baseball World Series

The annual College Baseball World Series has a new corporate home.  AmeriTrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska now seats more people than it's former CWS home Rosenblatt Stadium and provides an even better fan experience for the thousands of fans that travel from coast to coast to witness the best teams in college baseball compete.

NCAA college baseball doesn't make nearly as much money as college football but you don't build a stadium with those types of specs unless there is a substantial amount of money to be made.

As a Southerner, I am extremely proud because the southeast is represented by so many teams from the ACC and SEC. We take baseball serious in these parts!

Among the 8 teams that are competing for the National Championship title, there are only 4% of African American players that are competing among the total 275 scholarship players. There are no African American coaches on either school staff.  Is the representation so low because the NCAA doesn't want African Americans to participate?

Each school recruits the best student-athletes that they can that will graduate from college and help them win the College World Series trophy.  With that said, if you aren't a polished player, you can't play for Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Florida and the other participating schools in the CWS. You don't get to Omaha by luck.  You better have talent and a lot of it.

What does it take to become a polished player?  It takes a lot of money!  With an investment of 8K per year, you can get professional development training, exposure and advice.  If you don't have the money, you don't have chance.  This is why my wife Kelli and I created L.E.A.D. to serve inner city families in Atlanta that want to use baseball to access a college education. 75% of the families that we serve in the Atlanta Public School System live at or below the poverty level while 34% of African-American males graduate from high school.

L.E.A.D. continues to develop inner city players on and off the field and place them in colleges as student-athletes. We haven't had an Ambassador play in the CWS yet but it is coming soon. We were fortunate to have Ambassador alum Nick Marigny compete this year in the Junior College World Series representing Southern Union College.

Our year round programming for middle and high school age students is getting stronger especially with the support of individuals like you. Join L.E.A.D.'s Tailgate Club at L.E.A.D. Today...Change Tomorrow!

Everyone is welcome to attend the College Baseball World Series as a fan but only the skilled student-athletes can take the field.  We will continue to L.E.A.D. the way to Omaha!

Monday, June 20, 2011

L.E.A.D. batted 1.000 again in 2011

We selected 20 Ambassadors for the 2010-2011 season back in November during L.E.A.D. Weekend at Turner Field. Eight of those Ambassadors were seniors that devoted themselves to the L.E.A.D. organization and the Ambassadors program for the sole purpose of graduating from high school and receiving a college baseball scholarship.

Because of disciplinary reasons, three of the 8 Ambassadors were removed in the spring. It is unfortunate but the Ambassadors program is strict and requires 100% commitment from everyone involved. The only way that we can continue to achieve amazing success as an organization is to remain rooted in our mission and vision.

Today is a special day for Georgians because all five of the remaining Ambassadors have graduated from high school and will be signing college baseball scholarships. Only 43% of African American males graduate from high school in Georgia while less than 7% of African Americans compete in baseball at the NCAA level.

L.E.A.D. batted 1.000 once again in 2011. Since 2007, 100% of our Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college while 87% have entered with a baseball scholarship. With the rising cost of tuition, our young men need all the financial support that they can get in order to further their education.

Please continue to pray for L.E.A.D. and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming Ambassadors/Junior Ambassadors games or monthly service projects. Check out our schedule and join our Tailgate Club at

2011 Ambassadors Seniors
Desmond Stegall, B.E. Mays High School, Grambling State University
Marvin Goodman II, MLK High School, Atlanta Sports Academy
Cedric Daniel, MLK High School, Abraham Baldwin Community College, GA
Kerry Webb, MLK High School, Atlanta Sports Academy
Brandon Sharpe, MLK High School, Andrew College, GA

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Following Mendez: Perfect Game National Showcase Day 4

Mendez came out today locked in! In his first at bat, he hit a stand up triple facing a low 90's fastball from a lefty.  When he hit the ball, all you heard from the scouts was "Whooo!". Everything was perfect. Good timing and swing mechanics. On his second at bat, the middle infielders were playing at double play depth and he hit a hard ground ball up the middle and the shortstop was able to easily range to the ball to turn the double play.

The showcase is over for Mendez and he performed well against top tier national competition. He carried L.E.A.D. on his back this week. He has cut the trail for young baseball players from the Atlanta Public School System for years to come.

Mendez is heading to the beach tomorrow with his mom while Ben and I bake in the hot sun scouting players. L.E.A.D. Today...Change Tomorrow!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Following Mendez: Perfect Game National Showcase Day 3

We were up at 6:30AM preparing to get to the stadium for Day 3 of the Perfect Game National Showcase.  Mendez’s game was at 1PM.  The excitement remained in the air for all of the young high school players that are getting the opportunity to showcase their talent in front of hundreds of scouts.

Once again, the sun is beaming early in the morning.  I sat back in my new favorite shaded spot along the first base side of the field in order to get a good camera angle.

Mendez was back in action again catching some of the best high school flame throwers.  He was doing well until after 10 pitches when he began to collapse.  Dehydration began to kick in and caused him to leave the game defensively.  He did get two at bats today though.  He didn’t get any hits today but he hit every ball hard between shortstop and 2nd base which is an indication of how short his gotten.  So far, he is 1 for 3 with no strikeouts.

We are getting some much needed rest tonight and looking forward to tomorrow.  Today was special for me as well since I had the opportunity to discuss hitting with Hall of Famer Cal Ripken.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Following Mendez: Perfect Game National Showcase Day 2

The day began with check in at 9AM and it is now 11PM and we just got back to the hotel.  Mendez is still amped up from a great day.

He threw 92 MPH from the outfield in the showcase format.  His pop time was 1.8 from the catching position which is a solid major league average grade.  He was a little tight in the beginning of batting practice but quickly settled in and began to hit line drives.

When the lights came on, Mendez stepped in the box against an easy throwing right hander that topped out with a 93 MPH fastball.  The first pitch that Mendez saw was a 92 MPH fastball on the outside corner that he drove up the middle for a base hit single.  The ball was hit so hard that the middle infielders didn’t even attempt to field it.  Getting the single wasn’t enough so he immediately stole second base.  Three pitches later, he stole 3rd base.

All and all, it was a great day to perform in front of hundreds of college and MLB scouts.  I am glad to be on the ride.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Following Mendez: Perfect Game National Showcase Day 1

Today’s flight to Ft. Myers from Atlanta was a quick 70 minute trip.  As we took off in the plane, I reminded myself that this is a part of the plan for L.E.A.D.  Our job is to get Atlanta inner city high school players to college.  Many critics feel that inner city Atlanta teens aren’t good enough to compete on the national stage.  Mendez is proving the critics wrong with every step that he takes to City of Palms Park in Ft. Myers for the Perfect Game National Showcase which is the spring training home of the Minnesota Twins.

I sat next to Felicia (Mendez mother) on the way down and we talked about how Atlanta was back in the day.  She was born and raised in Atlanta just like me and elated to be here to watch her son represent the Atlanta Public School System that she graduated from.

Crystal Giles hooked us up with an amazing hotel room so we will be able to sleep well and be rested for a full day tomorrow.  We are so fortunate to have a Publix next door.  I love those sandwiches.
There is so much work scouting work to be done out here for me that I had to bring in my trusty assistant Ben Wolosick with us.  There will be over 500 scouts in attendance tomorrow watching the top 150 players in America.

We are winding down for the night and Mendez is starting to relax.  He is so excited for obvious reason.  He will do well.  Tomorrow is scheduled to start at 9AM with orientation, BP and a 1PM game to follow.  Stay tuned for photos and my blog post tomorrow.  Good night from Ft. Myers, FL.

Overcoming the storms

Guest blog post by: Marvin R. Goodman II

How did this happen? How did we go from having our own home, a new truck, and easy living to joblessness, financial uncertainty, carless, and no place of our own? Mom says “It’s just a test and a temporary situation. Just do what you need to do to get where you want to be; we have your back,” but I can’t help but to wonder how they keep it all together when it seems like we just can’t catch a break.

My high school days have been reeked with challenges: the loss of my grandma in 2009, watching the debilitating effects of Dementia on my granddad, losing our home and our car in 2010, and yet, through it all, Mom finds a way to keep the family balanced. Her ‘keep it moving’ attitude is what has helped me make it through. After all, despite our downfalls, this spring I have the opportunity to join the ranks of degree-seeking, career-minded student athletes across the nation, and that is exciting.

My goals are to someday play major league baseball and to become an FBI agent. I realize now that I dropped the ball in high school, but I hope to make a stunning recovery in college. Mom pushed her way through and graduated Summa Cum Laude last May with two bachelors’ degrees and I aspire to graduate with honors as well. For me, going to college equates to a soldier being awarded the Medal of Honor. Part of my plan to get there is to use my athletic talents as a means to my desired end – scholarship offers.

I have a new appreciation for life’s storms because they help build character and help make us stronger. I know I have what it takes to succeed in college and I look forward to every potential opportunity before me. In the words of my late great-grandmother, “I can show you better than I can tell you.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting our lead and headed to 2nd base

The L.E.A.D. vision became reality the summer of 2007. We had amazing athletes on the field that were giving their all but we fell short in the win column often. The losses on the field continued to increase but the scholarships increased.  To date, 87% of our Ambassadors have gone on to compete at the collegiate level with a baseball scholarship.  Prior to the 2011 season, our Ambassadors record was 10-150.

We began the Ambassadors summer baseball program with a strategic plan in mind. We used 2007 to 2010 as our time to get from home plate to 1st base.  Head coach Duane Wilson continues to push our boys and get the most out of them. We are so blessed to have an amazing head coach and even better person.

So far in 2011, our record is 6-5 and every game has been competitive against nationally ranked opponents.  Today, we hosted the East Cobb Patriots at our home field Perkerson Park. Very seldom does nationally recognized teams travel to the inner city of Atlanta to play games but L.E.A.D. is earning respect.  As an organization, we are getting our lead and headed to 2nd base with your continued support.

We have several games coming up. Join our L.E.A.D. Tailgate Club at and support an organization that is "Winning At The Game of Life!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

A day of service with Deloitte

How much money would it take for you to sign a Major League Baseball contract and forgo a college education? This is a very difficult question that my L.E.A.D. Ambassadors was able to answer today with the help from professionals at Deloitte ( in Atlanta.

Throughout the United States, Deloitte declared today as Service Day and made an impact in several communities.

I remember 1994 like it was yesterday. I signed my National Letter of Intent with Georgia State University in the winter and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the summer. I was the only graduate at Westlake High School faced with the opportunity to attend college or turn pro and it was a difficult decision but I chose to attend GSU.

Deloitte made the process so simple today for my Ambassadors by adding real numbers in an Excel spreadsheet along with sound advice.  The reality is that as an 18 year old, you don't have as much money as you think that you do when you consider the things that you need to be successful and the things that you want to be happy.

Being exposed to Deloitte today allowed my Ambassadors to also see yet another industry leader right here in Atlanta. They were all able to do some powerful networking. For some of them, they will be working in the 191 building on Peachtree Street and some of them will hire a professional from Deloitte upon graduation from college.

Special thanks to John Sadoff and Deloitte for serving us today. The "E" in L.E.A.D. stands for Exposure and Deloitte didn't let us down.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hope Full

I write this blog asking God to keep me strong to do His will day to day. I'm hopeful that He will continue to bless me while I bless others. To be hopeful is to trust. To trust in God. I remain hopeful that He will continue to use me to do big things.

There is a man sleeping on the streets of Atlanta that will close his eyes tonight with dreams of success just as clear as mine. He will rise tomorrow undefeated because of hope. He will remain strong because of that hope. 

There is a child that will take her last breath tonight in an Atlanta hospital dying from a terminal illness. She will go to sleep with a smile because of hope. To be absent from her body is to be present with the Lord. 

There is a mother that will cry herself to sleep tonight in Atlanta worrying that she may never see her only son alive again. Hope will wake her and remind her that He is in control. 

Hope is very under appreciated. I guess it's because you can't pay bills with hope. I guess it's because hope doesn't bring reality into plain sight as quickly as we would like. Hope has kept me sane as I have developed into a responsible man that cares a lot about others.  Hope makes me believe that I can continue to make a difference in the world. Hope has allowed us to graduate every Ambassador in our L.E.A.D. organization and send them to college while haters say that it can't happen. 

Hope along with integrity, passion and genuine concern for others has been my peace in a selfish world. I hope for the best and continued success to you.