JACKSON, MS - Tim Bennett, CEO of the Hank Aaron Sports Academy (“HASA”), announced that the Mississippi Braves would play an exhibition game against the Jackson State University Tigers at Smith-Wills Stadium on April 5, 2023. The M-Braves are scheduled to open their 18th season two days later on Friday,
JACKSON, MS - Tim Bennett, CEO of the Hank Aaron Sports Academy (“HASA”), announced that the Mississippi Braves would play an exhibition game against the Jackson State University Tigers at Smith-Wills Stadium on April 5, 2023. The M-Braves are scheduled to open their 18th season two days later on Friday, April 7, vs. Biloxi at Trustmark Park.
Bennett also announced that the net of all gate proceeds would go towards the facility’s Renovations Assistance Program (“R.A.P.”), which will focus on upgrades of local baseball parks and facilities owned by the city of Jackson: Jackson has seven high schools, with not one having an on-campus baseball field, thus leaving those teams to play on city-owned, public, and often sub-par fields. Smith-Wills Stadium has a seating capacity of 5,200, and the ability to draw a sell-out crowd could potentially result in a capital contribution to the facility’s R.A.P. of $150,000.00 in 2023.
“Having our Mississippi Braves team compete against the Jackson State Tigers not only will provide a great exhibition for our players, but it will also be a wonderful opportunity to help raise money for a wonderful and much-needed cause,” said Ben Sestanovich, Atlanta Braves assistant general manager, player development, via press release.
SWS became the home of the Hank Aaron Sports Academy in 2021 to assist the underserved community of youth in the Jackson-Metro area as an extension and magnification of the legacy of Henry “Hank” Aaron. It has served as a home field for the seven Jackson Public School baseball teams, along with summer/fall youth baseball, camps, clinics, and free programs designed to attract minority and under-served children to learn and play the game of baseball.
“We live in a world where promises are made quite frequently but go unfulfilled, so we are fortunate to have the Atlanta Braves display that they are not only World Champions on the field but also in the community as well, by standing behind their commitment to being leaders in the game of baseball to under-privileged and often overlooked communities,” Bennett said via press release. “The state of Mississippi is known to be the poorest state in the country and is often portrayed in a negative light, but how refreshing it is to see a diverse initiative that will benefit our future leaders both on and off the field where there is an apparent lack of opportunities available at the MLB and MiLB levels.
The exhibition game will mark the first time an affiliated professional baseball team has played a game at SWS since the season-finale between the Generals and Tulsa Drillers on September 4, 1999. The Drillers won the game over the Generals, 9-4.