- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 6, 2004

Children from around the District stepped up to bat yesterday during the Fields of Dreams baseball jamboree, a closing celebration of their fall after-school program that teaches them baseball skills and the values of baseball legend Jackie Robinson.

“The nine values Jackie Robinson lived by will follow me throughout my life,” said Trevon Jackson, a fifth-grader at Malcolm X Elementary School in Southeast. “I’m striving to achieve all of those values.”

Parents, friends, school principals and coaches were among those who shouted their lungs out as Trevon and 119 other D.C. elementary school girls and boys played yesterday at RBI and Jackie Robinson fields, next to Kimball Elementary School in Southeast.

Trevor and his teammates, dressed in jerseys of black and white, their school colors, zoomed around the baseball diamond, fielded grounders and hit home run after home run to defeat Simon Elementary School in Southeast, 10 to 3.

“Every time I come to the Field of Dreams program, I get help with my homework assignments,” Trevon, 9, said before running back to the bench to cheer on his teammates.

The program was started three years ago by the regional organization, A Greater Washington, based in Northwest. The curriculum focuses on what Robinson believed to be the nine virtues needed for success: courage, determination, teamwork, persistence, integrity, citizenship, justice, commitment and excellence.

In 1947, Robinson became the first black man to play in the major leagues in the 20th century. During his 10-year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the team won six pennants. Though he was recognized for his hitting skills and aggressive base-running style, Robinson also was known for his courage and the perseverance needed to cross the “color line” to play in the major leagues.

The children in grades four through six who participate in the program work on their reading and writing skills, and program leaders use baseball statistics to help students learn math.

The competition continued from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. yesterday.

“This was an effort to introduce children and the community to baseball,” said Robert Brandon, the organization’s director. “This was also an opportunity to give [the children] support in academics and a feeling of being on a team.”

During the fall and spring programs, students spend four days a week focusing on their studies and baseball skills. The teams play against one another once a week.

Keith Stubbs, vice president of baseball operations and Field of Dreams co-founder, beamed all day as Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School in Northeast took on Kimball Elementary and as Powell Elementary School in Northwest played Gage-Eckington Elementary School in Northwest.

“This environment is a positive place for children to meet extremely committed and dedicated adult role models,” said Mr. Stubbs, also a professional scout for the Philadelphia Phillies. “We provide quality baseball fields, trained coaches, new uniforms, equipment and certified teachers to provide the academic instruction about values and character.”

Mr. Stubbs said he can see a difference in the students who participate in the program.

“Our children have been engaged in a love of learning,” he said. “You can see it on the field and out in public.”

Trevon’s teammate, Deonte Martin, a sixth-grader at Malcolm X Elementary loves the game and wants to live by the maxims he found in the book “Jackie’s Nine: Jackie Robinson’s Values to Live By” by Robinson’s daughter, Sharon Robinson.

“Baseball is a fun sport, and I want to live by the values that Jackie Robinson lived by,” said Deonte, 11. “He was a great ball player, one of the greatest hitters ever, and the first African American to play [major league] baseball, but he faced a lot of challenges. The work that we do in the program, along with the baseball training, is helping me to improve myself.”

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