Former MLB player helps grow minority interest in baseball

ATLANTA — There is a group of southwest Atlanta boys who were absolutely thrilled to see the Braves win the World Series.

They were not “into” the sport until recently getting introduced to a southwest Atlanta non-profit organization called “Lead”.

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Channel 2′s Carol Sbarge “Got Real” and met with the boys and the man who runs the non-profit, former Chicago Cubs outfielder C.J. Stewart.

She also spoke to Washington High School 9th grader Joseph Smith who loves baseball. He’s been with Stewart and Lead since he was in the 6th grade.

“Before Lead, I hadn’t really paid much attention to baseball,” Smith said.

“We use baseball as a vehicle to help Black boys overcome the three curve balls that threaten their success. crime, poverty and racism,” Stewart said.

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Stewart grew up poor in Atlanta and know those obstacles first hand. He said someone exposed him to baseball when he was young and got him hooked on the game. That passion got him into the majors with the Cubs.

Stewart said the Braves Foundation is one Lead’s contributors. He said there are a low number of African-Americans currently playing college or professional baseball and he wants to change that. He and his wife Kelli share the history of the game, including the Negro Leagues with the youngsters to help them learn the history and build their passion.

“The gleam determination from that. They gleam discipline. All of those are aspects you’ll need not only to be successful on the baseball diamond but in life as well,” said Kelli Stewart.

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Meanwhile, Joseph is continuing to work on his approach and improving his hitting, just a couple of days after the Braves won the World Series for the first time in his young life.

“It’s like very special. Very, very close to home. I like to see them win,” Smith said.

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