KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- At a time when it seems just about every city in the metro is building a youth soccer complex and the NFL and NBA dominate the sports landscape, you’ll find 18-year-old Allante Hall taking swing after swing, and blocking pitch after pitch at KC Baseball Academy. It's an indoor training facility that also fields competitive teams.
“In order to become one of the greats, in order to become a big-leaguer you have to put in the work every day," Hall says.
“Outside pitch, outside, there you go, nice," his coach Danan Hughes shouts from outside the cage.
Hughes knows something about making it professionally.
“I grew up in the inner city. I grew up playing all three sports, baseball basketball football. Baseball was clearly my favorite," Hughes says.
But after being drafted by both baseball’s Brewers and the Kansas City Chiefs, Hughes chose football. He played wide receiver for the Chiefs from 1993-98.
Hoping to expose more children in the urban core to the game, Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals have teamed up on a different youth academy that’s almost ready to open to an estimated 1,000 kids per year near 18th and Vine.
“So that they can craft their skills and maybe become the next Frank White, or Jackie Robinson," Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed said about the Kansas CIty Urban Youth Academy's likelihood of success.
Hall’s dad is happy his son settled on a sport with fewer injuries that still offers players the chance at college scholarships. The Blue Springs South Senior catcher is heading to the University of Arkansas.
“I feel it’s coming back really heavy now, it had faded off awhile, now I see that they are really getting involved with baseball here in Kansas City.”
That resurgence started locally with the Royals back to back World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015. It might just be picking up steam nationally. The World Series has seen it's highest ratings in nearly a decade the past two years.
“To have Game 7s, to have World Series here in Kansas City two years ago, it made the city more alive," Hughes said.
“People think I want to be that guy on TV playing in that spot in the World Series," Allante Hall said.