HBCU baseball is back in Ohio as Wilberforce baseball program is back in full swing after being inactive for nearly 80 years.
“It’s been nearly seven years in the making,” Wilberforce University’s head baseball coach Roosevelt Barnes told HBCU Gameday. “We initially started conversations, you know, 2016 or so, with the Cincinnati Reds and the University. So, to actually get that first pitch thrown and after the long path to recruiting and getting the guys on the field feels good”
Roosevelt Barnes has been involved with the Cincinnati Reds RBI program for quite some time now. The organization had a large part inn reviving the baseball team at Wilberforce.
“RBI stands for reviving baseball in the inner cities,” Coach Barnes explained. “John Young, who was the founder of the RBI program many years ago, saw the need to have more young men of color playing the game. You know this is a very expensive game.”
This addition comes at a time when many HBCU baseball programs are now defunct.
“Major League Baseball and the Cincinnati Reds have been very helpful throughout the Midwest. To create that footprint to revive baseball back at Wilberforce in over 80 years I think is very historic. I’m not sure if a lot of people know this or not, but Wilberforce is the nation’s first privately owned and operated HBCU founded in 1856 and the Cincinnati Reds is Major League Baseball’s first team.”
The team is nearly midway through their come-back season and Coach Barnes is loving what he is seeing from the players on the field.
“We’ve got guys that play with swag and they kind of make their game fit their own personalities,” He explained. “There’s really good energy here and I’m really confident that we’re gonna be a force to be reckoned here here in the Midwest.”