Jason Heyward has already helped bring a World Series Championship to the city of Chicago. Now, Heyward is ready to help create the next baseball hotbed in the midwest.
After breaking ground last year, the Jason Heyward Baseball Academy is scheduled for a soft opening this coming winter. Heyward himself has selected the academy’s head of baseball operations, and is in the process of finalizing the hire.
“There’s so much opportunity to create a place to host tournaments, to host a league, to have a travel-ball team have that as their home base facility-wise,” Heyward told the Chicago Sun -Times.
“But just give all the kids in the community a place to get excited about going to play. I remember what that was like for me playing in East Cobb, being from McDonough, Henry County, just out of Atlanta.”
The East Cobb travel team Heyward played for is the East Cobb Astros, a national powerhouse based in Georgia. The Astros have produced dozens of MLB players, including fellow MLBbro Brandon Phillips. The high cost of travel ball has been well documented, but one of the keys to a quality travel baseball program that often gets overlooked is access to state of the art facilities.
With the Jason Heyward Baseball Academy, Black kids on the West Side of Chicago will now have their opportunity to build a powerhouse similar to the one that produced Heyward. The JHBA sits on a 10-acre site in North Austin, a predominantly black neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago.
“I want all the kids to get the right fundamentals and, if they love the game, to keep playing,” Heyward said. “But, if not, we would like to expose them to front-office jobs, media jobs, coaching jobs, all that kinds of stuff, as well.”
Heyward Still Leader In Cubs Clubhouse
The Cubs may not be contenders anymore, but Heyward has remained a pillar in their locker room, just like he’s been in the community.
Heyward, one of three remaining Cubs from that 2016 Championship squad, was hitting .316 with an OBP of .381 before the Cubs took on the Rays Wednesday. Albeit a small sample size, Heyward has once again showcased his ability to get on base. This is a welcomed sight after posting a career low .280 OBP last season.
Jason’s effectiveness at the plate may seem like a flashback to days of “prime” Heyward, but his glove has always remained elite. However, this season would provide a different challenge for the five time Gold Glove recipient, as the Cubs asked Heyward to play center in order to accommodate $85 million man Seiya Suzuki.
Some have wondered if a move to centerfield was the right move for the 32-year-old Heyward, who has had several injuries over the past few seasons. But so far, the vet has shown he still possesses enough athleticism to man the most difficult spot in the outfield.
After helping to end the longest championship drought in North American sports, many fans would say Jason has done enough for Chicago. He just keeps giving more of himself for various causes.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 15, 2022
But for Heyward it has always been bigger than baseball, and now the Jason Heyward Baseball Academy will help create opportunities on and off the field.