On the 72nd episode of the Nooze Hounds podcast, we spoke with Madden Morris, former major league pitcher, founder of the Carolinas Metro Reds organization and co-founder of the Knothole Foundation of the Carolinas.
Earlier in March, Ryan and Justin visited the newly renovated and renamed Stick Williams Dream Fields and Education Center, where Morris has hosted baseball clinics and games for the Carolinas Metro Reds (CMR) and is now home to the Knothole Foundation, a merger of sorts between CMR and fellow former major leaguer Jeff Schaefer’s organization, the U Deserve a Chance Foundation.
As Ryan wrote in his Spring Guide feature leading up to the field’s dedication, the goal of the Knothole Foundation is to bring underserved children from west Charlotte and across the area back into the game of baseball through athletic and educational programming.
Today, Black players compose about 7% of MLB rosters, less than half of the 17% of Black players who played in the league in 1991, shortly after Madden was forced out. In college baseball today, the number is closer to 3%. Madden and Schaeffer agree that a main part of the problem is accessibility; baseball has become less of a community sport and more of a club sport, with expenses making it unrealistic for low-income kids to get involved at an organized level.
We spoke to Madden about his own journey from a small town in South Carolina to the MLB, followed by his journey to help children become “Big League Adults” not only through sport but education.
“We actually tried to just give kids the opportunity to play, but now we’re at the point where nine out of every 10 kids that come through our program goes onto some higher level of education,” Madden said of the Carolina Metro Reds baseball family. “Not saying that they’re just going to play baseball, but the program is about reading proficiency, STEM — so we want to find out what kids want to do in life, and when we find out what they want to do we try to give them all the resources necessary to get them where they need to be.”
Remember you can catch Nooze Hounds on Spotify and other places where you find podcasts and be sure to check out Queen City Podcast Network for a slew of other great Charlotte podcasts that aren’t quite as good as ours but pretty damn close. Find past Nooze Hounds episodes here.
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