Atlanta Public Schools has a long and storied athletic history, and that includes baseball. Now APS will honor its baseball tradition by hosting the first high school all-star baseball game in the district’s history.
The Atlanta Public Schools All-Star Baseball Classic, presented by L.E.A.D., will showcase nearly 50 of the top baseball student athletes in metro Atlanta from 10 APS high schools: B.E.S.T. Academy, George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglass, Henry W. Grady, Maynard H. Jackson, Benjamin E. Mays, North Atlanta, South Atlanta, D.M. Therrell and Booker T. Washington.
Adding to the significance of the event, the game – scheduled for Tuesday, May 17, 11 a.m. – will be held at Turner Field. The APS All-Stars practiced together from 10 a.m. to noon, on Saturday, May 7 at Jackson High School.
Along with permitting the APS All-Star Baseball Classic to be played at Turner Field, the Atlanta Braves will present the All-Stars and their coaches to Braves Country on May 12th during an on-field presentation before the Braves face off against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The inaugural game represents the vision of C.J. Stewart, who grew up in one of Atlanta’s most dangerous housing projects, Hollywood Court, dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player. After starring at DeKalb College (now Georgia Perimeter College), he was signed by the Chicago Cubs organization. After his playing days ended, Stewart became a baseball instructor and started L.E.A.D., which stands for “Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct.” The mission of the non-profit organization is to create positive outcomes for at-risk, minority, inner-city youth by leveraging the relationship between education, athletics and service.
Through year-round programming, Stewart is providing deserving inner-city youth with a pathway to high school graduation, college access and career opportunities. L.E.A.D. is developing a fraternity of youth called Ambassadors: college bound, civically engaged student-athletes who are prepared to be positive change agents in their communities and world.
“This inaugural All-Star Game will serve as an inspirational catalyst to first, unite student-athletes from different schools and position them to use the game they love to lead Atlanta and to lead the world,” said Stewart, who attended elementary school in APS. “Atlanta needs young men who will grow up to lead this city and baseball helps develop those leaders. We are excited about providing this platform for leadership through the All-Star game via our partnership with APS.”
Stewart noted that several notable Atlanta leaders played baseball while in high school in APS. The list includes:
- Courtney D. English – Atlanta Board of Education Chair
- Andre Dickens – Atlanta City Councilman
- Kwanzaa Hall – Atlanta City Councilman
- Johnny Isakson – United States Senator
- Ceasar Mitchell – Atlanta City Council President
- Othello “Chico” Renfroe – Negro League Legend
- Donn Clendenon – Major League Baseball World Series
“Baseball changed my life,” English said. “Teamwork, discipline, work ethic, sportsmanship are all skills I use every day as chairman of the Atlanta Board of Education, and I learned them all on the baseball field. The chance to play in a citywide all-star game creates a level of camaraderie and pride between students that is simply invaluable. L.E.A.D. is a part of APS’ solution to create choice-filled lived for our students.”
Senator Isakson said, “I was a catcher on my high school baseball team, and it helped prepare me for public service in the Georgia state legislature and the U.S. Congress by teaching me to build trust with members of my team. Teamwork and building personal relationships are important factors for success in life, whatever your path. I would have been honored to participate in an All-Star game. It’s great to get to compete together with great athletes from other teams and other schools.”