Phillies Urban Youth Academy Expands


This past Tuesday, October 20th, the Philadelphia Phillies and the city of Philadelphia broke ground on an expansion project at the team’s Urban Youth Academy in South Philadelphia.

The only one of MLB’s current seven UYA programs offering multi-site, indoor-outdoor baseball and softball training facilities, this most recent ground-breaking took part to kick off expansion at the indoor facility.

The indoor facility for the Phillies UYA is located at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center, 740 S. 17th Street, between 17th & 18th, Catherine and Fitzwater Streets in South Philly.

The new space at the facility is slated to provide for baseball and softball training, educational, and baseball vocational programs. It will operate in tandem with the outdoor facility, which was upgraded at FDR Park back in early summer of this year.

That outdoor facility, located in what is known locally as “The Lakes“, already consisted of Ashburn Field for baseball and a pair of girls’ softball fields. Named after Phillies’ iconic Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, that baseball facility has existed since it’s dedication back in 1998.

This summer, the outdoor portion was renovated to include dugouts, a scoreboard, a press box, and new bleacher-style seating for approximately 450 spectators. The marquee event for the facility was hosting of the early rounds of the annual Carpenter Cup tournament. Held annually, the Cup tourney features 16 all-star teams made up of hundreds of the best high school players in the Tri-State area.

As reported in an official MLB press release in early June, on the occasion of the official summer opening of the outdoor portion, club chairman David Montgomery spoke on behalf of the Phillies organization.

“Today’s opening of the Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy is a significant milestone when it comes to developing inner-city youth baseball. This new field serves as a Major League forum for the next generation of baseball, and as a result, the more than 8,000 players in our RBI program will have even more opportunities to further showcase and develop their skills, starting with the Phillies Carpenter Cup on June 15. This is indeed a proud moment for the Phillies, Major League Baseball and the City of Philadelphia, and the start of an even brighter future for talented, young baseball players.

Players are indeed involved in supporting the facility as well, both in a financial way, and as part of the ongoing training programs. In fact, Montgomery noted at the indoor dedication this week that Phillies Wall of Famer Pat Burrell provided “seed money” for the projects, and that longtime star Ryan Howard and his wife provided additional funding when it was required at a later stage.

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The release further noted that “Former Major League and professional players, scouts, college and high school coaches, along with others from the baseball and softball communities, will provide instruction and program oversight.” Through a membership program, the facility is available year-round to local Philly youth interested in learning the games of baseball and softball.

As reported for by Paul Hagen this week, the latest expansion to the indoor portion of the facility will create 7,500 square feet of additional training space for the program. Major League Baseball’s vice president of youth and facility development, Darrell Miller, noted that the Phillies have been involved in creating greater opportunities for inner city youth to play the game for more than two decades. He was quoted by Hagen:

“Our youth deserve tremendous facilities. They deserve the opportunity to play the game at the highest possible level. They deserve great coaching. They deserve mentoring. They deserve the opportunity to play the greatest game ever created. It’s a hard game to play. It takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication. It’s all about work. It’s all about individual determination. It’s the fabric of what our great nation has been built on. And that’s hard work. That’s what makes great baseball players. That’s what makes great softball players. That’s what makes Major League contributors to our society.”

That statement says a lot about Miller’s passion for the game. This new facility says a lot about the dedication of organizations such as the Phillies, as well as individuals such as Montgomery, Howard, Burrell, and many others in helping bring access to first-class training opportunities to those inner city youth who share that love and passion for the game.

Stay tuned here at TBOH as we learn of any further developments in the Phillies continuing efforts to expand interest in our great game throughout all of the neighborhoods of the city of Philadelphia through the RBI program, the Urban Youth Academy, and other initiatives.

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