From left to right: Front Row - Bat Boys - Julian Vasquez, Dorian Foster; Middle Row - Coach Randy (Q) Jordan, Ryan Jenkins, London Penland, Miles Williams, Shane Garrett, Coach Wil Ash; Back Row - Connor Mack, Darius Foster, Emilio Vasquez, Head Coach Eddie Abram, Ricky Martinez, Robbie Brue, Tavian Henderson. Inset; Ralph Grant, top right.
By Chanelle Bell
Despite being considered the underdogs, the Ralph Grant Baseball Academy beat the odds, winning the 12 and under division National Championships in Marietta, GA.
The team, which is based and Oakland and draws talent from around the Bay Area, is led by Eddie Abrams, Jr., Will Ash, and Randy Jordan, who is also known as Coach Q.
The team finished the season with a record of 66 wins and 4 losses, with the players excelling academically as well as athletically.
The team takes its name and follows in the tradition of Ralph Grant, an Oakland civic leader who died in 2009 and dedicated over 25 years to coaching youth baseball.
When Grant was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it devastated Abrams.
“He was my best friend. It was unexpected. He didn’t drink or smoke, ” said Abrams.
Towards the end of his life, Grant’s wife would drive him to the baseball field so he could still watch the team’s practices, said Abrams.
“The kids would all run up to him whenever they saw him,” said Abrams. “I could see the joy that the kids brought him, and it has inspired me to keep doing what I can for these kids.”
The Ralph Grant Team is a dedicated unit in which players bring out the best in each other, says Abrams. Coaches stress the importance of an education and ensure that team members receive a tutor if they are slipping academically.
“They all work together towards a common goal, success,” said Abrams.
“Baseball teaches discipline, camaraderie, and social graces.”
. The parents play a huge role in the success that the Ralph Grant team has received. The cost for a team to participate in a tournament is $500-$600. The team plays two tournaments a month and the costs get pretty steep. Abrams said, “We are fortunate to have such supportive parents. It is very expensive to play travel baseball, and all the coaches are volunteers.”
Abrams recognizes that there are many Black men in the community who volunteer and give their all to the youth, “Thank you to all the men that are out there giving up their time to teach the kids the game of baseball. I commend you for your hard work, and I know God is going to give you a ticket to heaven.”
For information or to make donations, visit www.eteamz.com/ralphgrantbaseballacademy/