The league consists primarily of 120 African-American kids, and will go beyond the scope of the baseball diamond. In addition to playing baseball, participants have to attend mandatory weekly skills sessions. These sessions will include, but are not limited to, academic tutoring, computer skills training, health awareness and life skills.
"The Long Ball League in Durham is a pilot program for Minor League Baseball and our Durham Operations," said MiLB president, Pat O'Conner. "Through this program, we intend to serve an acute need in the neighborhoods surrounding the Durham Athletic Park, while developing a model program for broader distribution throughout Minor League Baseball in the years to come.
"We have worked closely with the local coaches and administrators to develop an exciting program that combines playing baseball with continuing educational opportunities, life skills development, and mentoring relationships for the kids in the area."
The eight-team league consists of 13-15 and 16-18 age divisions. All eight clubs have MiLB monikers and uniforms. The Lakewood BlueClaws, Mahoning Valley Scrappers, West Tenn Diamond Jaxx and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will compete in the 13-15 year-old division. The 16-18 year-old division includes the Durham Bulls, Lake Elsinore Storm, Orem Owlz and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
Each club is slated to play nine games. The season will end in early August with a one-day tournament, and a picnic for all eight teams and their families.