YMCA renames youth baseball/softball league in honor of Ted Rasberry

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Ted Rasberry, a Grand Rapids native, played for the Colored Athletics, founded the Grand Rapids Black Sox and, in the 1950s, owned the Negro American League’s Kansas City Monarchs and Detroit Stars. Courtesy YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids

The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids announced it changed the name of its youth baseball and softball league to the Ted Rasberry Youth League.

The change of the league’s name honors the legacy of Ted Rasberry, who passed away in 2001. The Grand Rapids native played for the Colored Athletics, founded the Grand Rapids Black Sox and, in the 1950s, owned the Negro American League’s Kansas City Monarchs and Detroit Stars.

“Our baseball and softball league unite the community, providing positive role models who teach our kids valuable skills and values ranging from respect to inclusion,” said Scott Lewis president of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. “We believe it is both well-deserved and incredibly fitting to honor Ted Rasberry’s life and dedicated work as a role model and unifier by naming this the Ted Rasberry Youth League.”

In partnership with the West Michigan Whitecaps, Fifth Third Bank, Meijer, and Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation, the league has provided youth with baseball and softball activities in their neighborhoods for more than 25 years. More than 35,000 children have participated in the league, and the YMCA plans to enroll another 1,200 youth this summer.

“We know that communities are made stronger when kids have the opportunity to grow and reach their full potential,” said Joe Chamberlain, CEO of the West Michigan Whitecaps. “Learning the fundamentals of baseball and softball, sportsmanship, and the positive values of respect, responsibility, honesty and caring are lessons that can be the building blocks for big things.”

Rick Rasberry, son of Ted Rasberry, said renaming the league is an incredible tribute to his father.

“It will give us great pride to see that his many endeavors are being acknowledged with this honor,” Rick Rasberry said. “It would have given Dad a huge sense of pride to know the principles and values he so cared about will have an opportunity to be passed down to generations to come, and we will be able to see the fruits of his sacrifices in our own community.”

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