Former Pro Baseball Player Omar Washington Trains Black Youth for Big Leagues

Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor) | 11/14/2016, 8:43 a.m.
Omar Washington, a former professional baseball player with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox is on a mission ...
Former professional baseball star Omar Washington, leads Citius USA, one of the foremost minority youth baseball academies in the nation. -- Photo from Omar Washington

The Big Lead article continued: “Once in the sport, the financial barriers for continuing in competition can escalate even more. This is particularly true as kids get to the 12 and 13-year-old age groups, when baseball begins to see the participation decline. Local community-based leagues may have a relatively affordable entry fee, but once tournament baseball becomes a bigger part of the equation, fees escalate.”

Tournament fees don’t include hotel accommodations, gas and food money, as well as costs for any family member who desires to travel with the player.

Washington has resisted the temptation of calling on past or present superstars like Derek Jeter, Andrew McCutchen, Lorenzo Cain and others.

“I’m trying hard to help and, right now, we’re the number one ranked minority-based organization in the whole country and with that you’d think those guys who have made it would look at this situation because of the economics and do something,” Washington said. “I can’t make them do anything. I would love to tell them to stop being naïve and that these kids are you. They are who you were once and they are striving to get the same opportunities that you got.”

Even the various urban youth academies run by Major League Baseball itself have failed to flourish – or at least they’ve been unsuccessful in establishing a rapport with young African-Americans.

“The programs really are nonexistent for us in the areas that we are in,” Washington said. “They don’t consider the hardships that the kids go through and they don’t address that at all. Those academies are not nearly enough to make a difference.”

So, Washington continues to push on – seeking to hit homeruns where he can, but taking it one base at a time, which he notes is the only reasonable alternative.

The goal of Citius USA is to improve the talent level of the minority youth and, in doing so, providing a platform to college or pro baseball for athletes at the high school level.

Mostly, Washington said he continues to promote sportsmanship, hard work, competitiveness, and knowledge and respect for the game of baseball.

“The competition we surround our players with is unmatched and it really gives our kids an edge,” Washington said. “I bet you that 90 percent of Black kids in Texas, who have played professional baseball came through my organization.”

Washington continued: “We are trying to do something here and we definitely want to make sure that we reaching out to help these kids. Our track record is really good; we have 75 kids who have been drafted out of the program and over 400 who are now in college. It’s a strong program and we’re doing it with very little because we’re old school and these kids deserve this opportunity.”