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For the first time in decades, baseball returns to Calvert, home of the 'Father of Black Baseball'

Posted at 2:45 PM, Jul 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-16 15:45:02-04

CALVERT, Texas — If you know anything about the history of baseball, you may recognize the name Andrew Rube Foster, a historic native of Calvert who was nicknamed the ‘Father of Black Baseball.' Foster famously founded the Negro National League in 1920.

One little baseball field, named in honor of Foster, currently stands near downtown Calvert on Kezee Street, where Foster’s childhood home once was. With the push from city council member and multi-generational Calvert local Bobby Alford, the town was able to create this field in Foster’s name back in 2008.

"My two sons inspired me," Alford said. "My youngest loved basketball, so I kept going to the city council asking for help to get [basketball resources] done. My oldest liked baseball.”

The city of Calvert hasn’t had a real baseball program since the town was de-segregated decades ago, according to Alford, who explained that the last baseball fields were built over to make room for temporary classroom structures. Calvert’s small school district hosts some sports teams, but kids here – especially ones without the means to travel out of town – haven’t had the chance to play any baseball, Alford said. Even with the installation of Foster Field in 2008, until this year, the facility hasn’t seen much use beyond a t-ball and softball program that fizzled out.

Texas A&M doctoral student Andrew Christjoy, a former junior college baseball player, decided to dedicate his communications thesis work to revitalizing the sport for Calvert’s kids.

“This project right here, this baseball program, started as a community endeavor where we’re like, ‘we need to play some baseball out here,'" Christjoy said. "But I thought it would also be a really good idea to see how communities can be resilient by using baseball to bolster gatherings and such.”

The free program created by Christjoy, titled 'Calvert Baseball,' started this June. Right now Christjoy and his colleague are focused simply on teaching boys and girls the basics of baseball – how to throw, catch, pitch and bat. The program has received support from a couple of local organizations, and Christjoy said his dream is to see the town keep the program growing long enough that it can develop into a league.

“I was terrible when I first started out," said Davien Flentroy, a recent Calvert High School graduate and baseball program attendee. "I couldn’t hit the ball. Every time I threw the ball it would go this way or that way, hit my glove and fall out. Now I actually feel confident about my skills.”

Christjoy noted that from his observations, certain socio-economic groups in Calvert can be isolated from each other, even in 2022. He hopes that sharing a summer sport like baseball can give kids more of a chance to fellowship with their neighbors. He said he's found the people of Calvert are passionately supportive and have been happy to dedicate time and resources to opportunities like this.

“The community is a huge part of resilience," Christjoy said. "I am trying to see how the game of baseball, where it hasn’t been played a long time in Calvert, can be the catalyst for resilience in a community.”

So far about a dozen children and teens, mostly middle and high school age, meet at the field twice a week for practice. Organizers anticipate more kids will join once the current heat wave subsides.

To learn more about the program, visit the following link: HOME | Calvert Baseball