The Atlanta Braves are hosting an inaugural weekend series between Historically Black College and University (HBCU) baseball programs, while honoring Braves Hall of Famers and HBCU graduates in the Ralph Garr-Bill Lucas HBCU Baseball Classic presented by Truist.
The inaugural series will take place Friday, March 12 through Sunday, March 14, at Coolray Field, home of the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett Stripers.
The three-game series features Grambling State University and Florida A&M University, the alma maters of Braves Hall of Famers, Ralph Garr and Bill Lucas.
Ralph Garr was known as “The Road Runner” for his speed and agility. Garr posted a career .317 batting average as a Brave, tied for first in Atlanta Braves history. As a rookie in 1971, he hit .343 and set an Atlanta record with 219 hits. He won the batting title in 1974 with a career high .353. After his playing career, he joined the Braves Scouting department and has spent more than 40 years as a player, coach, and scout with the organization. He was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2006.
Bill Lucas became the first African American General Manager in Major League Baseball history. He spent more than 20 years in the Braves organization and was a member of the transition team for the move from Milwaukee to Atlanta.
After a successful tenure in the player development department, Lucas was promoted to GM at only 40 years old in 1976. His philosophy was to focus on player development, growing talent through the minor league system and expanding coaching in the minor leagues. He was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2006.
Over the last five seasons (2016-2020), Grambling State Baseball has compiled 61 SWAC Western Division wins. The most wins over that time of any Western Division school. During that time the program has never finished below second place in the division. Under current Coach James Cooper’s tenure, there have been seven MLB draft picks, two free agent signings, one MLB scout, and an MiLB development coach.
FAMU, under current Coach Jamey Shouppe returned to the top of the MEAC, winning conference titles in 2015 and 2019, and leading the Rattlers to its first two NCAA Regional appearances in school history.
Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the growth of Black Baseball across the Southeast. The Braves recently teamed up in another partnership to help even more HBCUs.