Best Sports

Best: James’s work in youth baseball is bearing fruit

January 30, 2014 

After a slow start to getting the recognition she deserved, Patricia James is finally getting her due.

James, who was Nobles before her marriage, is president of the Long Ball inner-city baseball program that was started by Minor League Baseball in Durham six years ago.

Long Ball not only gives teenage boys the opportunity to play baseball free of charge but also provides life skills lessons along the way. James, and her volunteer coaches and staff, believed in the dozens of young men who have come through program when nobody else would.

Two years ago, MiLB packed up its youth program and left Durham, but James found other options to keep Long Ball afloat. It is now under the umbrella of the nonprofit Durham Triple Play Long Ball, thanks to the efforts of Duke law students. Now, all contributions are tax deductible, and the program is eligible for grants.

In 2012, James received an all-expense-paid, eight-day, seven-night Alaskan cruise courtesy of Cabot Creamery and Celebrity Cruises for her volunteer work with Long Ball.

In December the program was awarded a Duke Doing Good Neighborhood grant of $2,500.

Her high school black alumni association will honor her at their reunion later this year, and next month she will receive a Samuel DuBois Cook Society award at the Washington Duke Inn.

The award is named after Duke’s first black tenured professor and his dedication to improve relations among all individuals. James will join six others at the dinner and award ceremony Feb. 18.

And last, but certainly not least, Durham Triple Play will be under a new organization – RBI – when the season starts in the spring. RBI stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner cities.

A couple of the Long Ball teams traveled to Kinston last season to participate in an RBI tournament against the “big boys” and came away victorious. This season the Triangle will host its own teams, so they won’t have to travel.

“All the persistence and hard work is paying off for these young men and this program,” James wrote in an email. “I am so happy the program is getting the recognition it deserves. I truly

appreciate the recognition for myself, but I want badly to figure out how I can recognize the coaches because without them, it wouldn’t be a baseball program.”

Golf fundraiser grows The Banks Foundation’s Triangle Golf Challenge in Support of Triangle Charities had one of its biggest successes last summer.

The fundraiser moved from The Preserve at Jordan Lake to UNC Finley Golf Course, which was a big hit with the golfers, and added Communities In Schools of Durham as a charity. The foundation also provides down payment assistance to help low-income families move from public assistance to homeownership.

Over $40,000 was raised last summer and the event was a sellout. CIS received $3,000 to help with dropout prevention.

“The Banks Foundation has been a blessing to my family in a time of need,” said recent recipient Tanesha Summers who closed on a new home last November.

This summer’s golf tourney is June 13 at Washington Duke Inn. Next year it will move to N.C. State’s Lonnie Poole Golf Course, thus the new name Triangle Golf Challenge.

As always, a pre-tourney reception will be held the night before at Brier Creek Country Club in Raleigh. Spots are filling up, and sponsorships are available. Call (919) 474-9137 or visit its Facebook page.

Movin’ on

• Jordan High running back Rahi Winston Jr. has verbally committed to Chowan University. Winston was named to the PAC-6 all-conference football team last fall.

• Hillside wide receiver Trevion Thompson ended months of speculation and verbally committed to Clemson. ESPN.com rates Thompson as a four-star prospect and No. 20 WR in the class of 2014.

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