MEMPHIS, Tenn. — “Our kids, we can run like everybody else. We can jump like everybody else. We can think like anybody else. If we’re just put in the right position then I think we can soar and be just as good as anybody else,” said LeMoyne-Owen head baseball coach Patrick Newman.
“Back in the 50’s, WDIA radio station, that was the only means for negro baseball in the city of Memphis,” assistant coach Johnny Rudd added. “There was no inner-city baseball for Black kids, not even high school.”
Decades later, there’s still something missing in Memphis baseball.
“There’s a lack of minority participation from the inner city from these sports,” said Newman.
“All the kids we got coming over here, I don’t think a single kid is in walking distance of this park that he has here,” Rudd said.
The fill the empty fields in East Memphis, Newman decided to start a T Ball league. Rudd, his former coach, mentor and now assistant, is right beside him.
“Sometimes we find it difficult to find kids in the inner city that’s capable to play on the type of level, on the collegiate level, not because they can’t do it, but because they haven’t been exposed to it at an early age,” said Newman.
The new league is completely free.
“I don’t think any of this would be possible if I didn’t have the leadership in my life,” said Newman.
“It was like a stair step,” added Rudd. “One make it, help others. One make it, help others. So it’s been that way and now Patrick is doing this, stepping out, helping these babies.”
Off the field, Newman is a real estate investor with his own company. He and his friends with businesses sponsor the league, teaching skills beyond the mound.
“Instead of having teams like the Bears and the Giants we have the RP Newman Realty Investors. We have the Spikener Little Accountants and the kids are asking dad, what is an accountant? Mom, what is an accountant? And you’re getting those conversations started at a really early age,” said Newman.
Parents are enjoying seeing their kids on city fields like Coach Rudd saw many, many years ago.