National Youth Baseball Academy brings sunlight to a rained out exhibition day

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg was dedicated to the return of baseball to Washington, D.C. Happily, professional baseball came back to us in the nation’s capital in 2005. The city agreed to pay for the stadium, and the new owners, Ted Lerner and his children, agreed to give something back to the community by building the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in an economically deprived D.C. neighborhood.

Group photo of the Lerner family, the Nationals team members and the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy
Photo credit: The Ciesla Foundation, March, 2014

On the rainy morning of Saturday, March 29th, the whole Nationals baseball team, the owners, political leaders and the public attended a moving ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Academy. Spearheaded by the inspiring leadership of Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, daughter of Ted Lerner, who heads the Dream Foundation, the Academy officially opened up. It offers an incredible array of activities for both boys and girls, not only in the playing of the sport, but in building character and improving academic performance.

Marla Lerner Tanenbaum
Photo credit: The Ciesla Foundation, March, 2014

Marla admitted that they “still have to fundraise to keep the quality of the Academy going.” Their annual spring fundraiser helped build and will maintain the Academy. She graciously mentioned many names of people who contributed to the making of the Academy at the ceremony. Marla later admitted that she was the “hub of the wheel” that got it built.

Witnessing those young girls and boys standing in front of the professional baseball players was enough to make one shed a tear or two. As Marla mused, “how thrilling it is to think this will help the kids create a future.”

One of the board members, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, brought one of the young girls standing by him up front when his name was announced. That image called to mind fantasies about females one day actually playing Major League Baseball. But reality hit when I asked Nationals GM Mike Rizzo if there would ever be a woman in the leagues and he said a quick, “No.” Maybe one can hope that the young Academy member or some of the other girls will grow up to be executives or owners.

Shortstop Ian Desmond with Caleb Kohn Murphy
Photo credit: Christopher Murphy, March, 2014

I encourage you to donate to the Academy and stay tuned to see their future stars. Go to their website to contribute.

Nationals players with Academy kids
Photo credit: The Ciesla Foundation, March, 2014

Although the rain did not wash out this opening, the exhibition game that afternoon between the Nationals and the Tigers was very much cancelled. And my last minute ditch efforts to see and interview Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Ian Kinsler, present day Jews in baseball, also fizzled.

So what is a filmmaker to do to end a day with so much rain? Be motivated to see Darren Aronofsky’s commanding Noah. Who knew the Biblical figure was a vegan and a humanist of sorts?

By Aviva Kempner

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