Why we must continue to change the narrative

While summer is when elite baseball players hit the field for countless games, the teams they choose to play for can make all the difference. Some teams are purely for play, while others ignite a deeper passion within players.

For many, the goal of playing baseball extends beyond just winning games; it’s about securing scholarships, chasing dreams of getting drafted and ultimately making it to the collegiate or professional level.

But for Black American players, the journey often is filled with challenges. Despite their talent and dedication, they face systemic barriers that limit their representation in higher levels of the sport.

As co-founders of LEAD Center For Youth, my wife, Kelli, and I are committed to changing this narrative. Our mission is clear: to use baseball and tennis as tools to equip Black youth with the skills to overcome the curveballs life throws their way—whether it’s crime, poverty or racism.

Baseball has a rich history within the Black community, dating back to the establishment of the Negro Leagues in 1920. These leagues not only showcased incredible talent but also pioneered innovations in the sport, from introducing night games to inventing essential equipment like batting helmets.

Yet, in 2024, we find ourselves still grappling with the question of how to increase Black participation in baseball. While Black boys may be playing the game, they need more than just a team—they need a passion team. That’s where organizations like LEAD come in.

LEAD isn’t just about teaching baseball skills; it’s about instilling a sense of purpose and empowerment in young players. It’s about guiding them from personal success to making a significant impact in their communities as members of the passion team.

Their Play Team is where they are focused on success for themselves, while their Passion Team is a commitment to significance, serving others beyond themselves. We need legions of Black American men in the Major Leagues, and that calls for legions of Black boys competing for Passion Teams at the amateur travel ball levels.

Together, we can transform the game and empower the next generation of Major League Players and Major League Citizens.

For more information, visit L.E.A.D. Center for Youth today.

If you found this inspiring and thought-provoking, or if you have any questions, comments or concerns, add me on Discord and let’s go deeper.

C.J. Stewart has built a reputation as one of the leading professional hitting instructors in the country. He is a former professional baseball player in the Chicago Cubs organization and has also served as an associate scout for the Cincinnati Reds. As founder and CEO of Diamond Directors Player Development, C.J. has more than 22 years of player development experience and has built an impressive list of clients, including some of the top young prospects in baseball today. If your desire is to change your game for the better, C.J. Stewart has a proven system of development and a track record of success that can work for you.