Saturday had a local feel on the field and in the stands at Minute Maid Park, where Houston-area rivals TSU Baseball and Softball Teams and Prairie View A&M University faced off in the nightcap of another full day of games at the Cactus Jack HBCU Classic. Proceeds from the nine-game, three-day event — hosted by the Astros Foundation and rapper Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Foundation — are being used to fund student scholarships at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
While Texas Southern certainly entertained fans with its play, the biggest news came pregame when officials from both the university and the Astros delivered a special announcement on the field.
As part of an ongoing partnership between the organizations, the Astros Foundation is providing funding to build TSU Baseball and Softball stadiums on its Houston campus. Paula Harris, vice president of community affairs and director of the Astros Foundation, presented university officials with a $1 million check on the field prior to Saturday’s game.
“We started our partnership with Texas Southern last year, and this is just another big step…Texas Southern has never had their own baseball field. They play at a city park! We are the World Series-winning Houston Astros, and we’re here to do our part to make sure that our kids have the same equality across this city and access to good baseball.”Paula Harris, Vice President of Community Affairs and Director of the Astros Foundation
Construction of the TSU baseball and softball stadiums to begin this year
Texas Southern will break ground and begin building the new TSU Baseball and Softball stadiums later this year. The Tigers baseball team currently plays off-site at MacGregor Park, while the softball team plays at Memorial Park.
“This partnership is a game-changer for our student-athletes…Now they will get the facilities they deserve. I would like to thank Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane and his executive team for their generosity and commitment to help make this project a reality for our campus and the surrounding community.”Dr. Kevin Granger, Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics at Texas Southern
To Harris and the Astros, the new TSU baseball and softball stadiums are an extension of the community outreach they’ve already put together with the Classic, which brought six HBCU programs to a Major League ballpark for the first time. The other four programs participating in the round-robin tournament are Southern University and A&M College, Grambling State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University.
“Our goal was to make sure that our HBCU kids have the same experience on the field that we [provide] in our other college classics…The Astros are committed to diversity. We want to make sure that all kids are exposed to baseball, and they all get an opportunity. This is the culmination of a lot of work and dreams.”Paula Harris, Vice President of Community Affairs and Director of the Astros Foundation
While the universities and student-athletes are clearly enjoying themselves, Harris sees the new TSU baseball and softball stadiums as something that is important to the broader Houston baseball community as well.
“The more we can get a diverse group into baseball, that’s what we want…We want to have our fans in the entire community enjoy this. Everyone is invited out. We’ve had parties, gospel brunches, a college fair. It’s been a busy, busy three days. The ultimate goal is to get kids engaged in baseball, and our community is working together on that.”Paula Harris, Vice President of Community Affairs and Director of the Astros Foundation