Hot off winning their second consecutive championship and finishing their second consecutive undefeated season, local Baltimore City youth baseball team the Northwood Spartans are continuing their play through a Baltimore Orioles program.
The 12U travel team plays their regularly scheduled home games at the Northwood baseball complex on Argonne Drive, but they have traveled to Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to compete with other top teams in the region.
The team plays under the Northwood Baseball Baltimore City Intra-league, which has been a staple youth program in the state for 57 years. And now that the inter-league season is complete, they have joined the Orioles RBI league, which stands for “reviving baseball in inner cities.”
The program, which is sponsored by Giant Food and Nike, allows the youth team to play teams all over Baltimore and its surrounding counties. The Orioles partnered with Pepsi Stronger Together, PepsiCo’s grassroots initiative, to encourage youth baseball and softball in Baltimore. The organizations give youth opportunities to play on newly improved fields, play with new equipment, and learn life skills including teamwork, self-esteem, self-discipline, and leadership.
In addition to teaching skills, offering equipment, and giving tickets to O’s home games, the RBI program awarded the Spartans the opportunity to visit the Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro League Baseball in Owings Mills.
Additionally, the team was able to attend a full Women’s History Month Program and had a chance to meet Orioles All-Stars face to face while having discussions about the importance of education, staying drug free, and being an overall good citizen.
Marques Dent is the board chairman for the Northwood Baseball League, coach of the Spartans 12U team, and the newly appointed vice president of Orioles RBI. Dent said participating in sports can have a plethora of benefits for youth.
“Youth sports teaches our young people about integrity, accountability and teamwork,” Dent said. “It gives them a safe haven to de-stress, meet new kids and develop lifelong bonds.”
Dent, who played with Northwood from ages six to 17, recalls his time with the program.
“My dad coached at Northwood and was a board member,” he said. “Out of all my father’s accomplishments in life I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps and coach at Northwood as well…. Playing at Northwood as a child and now giving my gifts back to the next generation is a blessing.”
Dent believes, “safety and providing quality out-school time activities is the key to creating generations of life-long Baltimoreans.”
The organization recently held a 56th annual family fun day where their field was renamed and dedicated to Tony Soarers, the longest living member of Northwood baseball, at 79 years old.
The Northwood program starts on the field but it goes far beyond the diamond. Whether it’s passing out school supplies in August or distributing turkeys during the holidays, Dent says, “our vision is to be a one-stop shop for youth and family recreations and resources.”
The team will host tryouts for next season in August, in hopes of continuing their winning tradition.