|Saving the MLB Draft Factory with the help of Area Code Baseball|
No high school in the USA has produced more Major Leaguers than Fremont of Los Angeles. The Pathfinders have placed 23 players in the Major Leagues, topped by Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, National League standouts Willie Crawford, Eric Davis, George Hendrick and Bob Watson and manager Gene Mauch. Despite being situated in South Los Angeles (in 2003, the city of Los Angeles changed the area's name in hopes of removing the associations of urban decay and street crime with which the name South Central had become associated), Fremont has defied the odds and through baseball provided so many with the opportunity to avoid all the negative influences.
Sadly, budget cuts threaten the very existence of this storied program and the school district no longer provides any funding for athletic programs.
Given the economically depressed climate of this area, it quickly becomes apparent that a car wash fundraiser on the notorious streets of South Central is not going to achieve the desired results. The problem is compounded by the new blanket BBCOR bat standards that have been imposed on all high schools. The foundation has been inundated with requests for BBCOR bats because individuals and programs in areas like South Central Los Angeles and other impoverished areas of the country simply don't have the $300-$400 to spend on a new bat. Unfortunately, with the standard being so new, we have not yet received any donations of used BBCOR bats and the bat manufacturers, despite being the primary benificiary of this new standard, have not offered any assistance.
Fortunately, the Going to Bat Foundation was in a position to re-purpose a generous donation from Andrew Knepper and Area Code baseball to ensure that Fremont High School had some semblance of uniforms for the start of the 2012 season. We will continue to work with donors to ensure the survival of this historically significant program.
About Area Code Baseball
The founder of the Area Code Games, Bob Williams, collaborated with the Northern California Major League Scouts to put together the best high school underclassman players from geographical areas based on telephone area codes. The premise was to have the top players compete against each other using wood bats and dress in the respective Area Code Teams Major League uniform. This has changed, with the players wearing Area Code Baseball uniforms and the hats of their respective MLB teams.
This process has proven to be a winning formula for high school talent identification and evaluation. The Area Code Games have produced more than 500 Major League players -- a statistic that continues to grow.
The uniqueness of the Area Code Games separates from anything that is available to the premier high school player. In 2002 Student Sports Inc. acquired Area Code Baseball. In the years that Student Sports owned the Area Code Games, the percentage of Area Code players selected in the MLB Draft reached new peaks.
In July 2008, ESPN took over the Area Code Games. In 2011, New Balance came in as the presenting sponsor of Area Code Baseball.