Urban Youth Academy sending two KC squads to All-Star Game festivities

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There will be a lot of players wearing KC Royals uniforms on the field at Nationals Park next week for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game festivities. They just won't be Major League players, other than Salvador Perez.

The Urban Youth Academy is sending two teams to Washington D.C. on Thursday. A baseball and softball team from the academy will get to witness a lot of the festivities surrounding the All-Star Game, including the Home Run Derby, Celebrity Softball Game and Futures Game.

“This is my first time on a plane, too, so it’s going to be really exciting," Carmen Gudino said.

They will also compete in the Commissioners Cup against seven other Urban Youth Academies, including squads in Compton and Harlem.

“For us to be able to take kids not only from the urban core on Missouri side but also on the Kansas side and be able to develop them into one team and get to represent this community and this organization is a pretty exciting opportunity," Kansas City Urban Youth Academy Executive Director Darwin Penny said.

“I love the game. I play with a passion. I do it for my family. Where I come from, there’s not a lot of people that are successful," Vinny Esparza said.

Just in its first year, the academy's executive director said he’s impressed with the talent of both the boys and girls high school teams and only expects it to grow with future generations.

"I’m not saying one day they are going to be an All-Star, but it at least gives them hope. That’s the thing we always want to provide for these kids, is just hope. Hope that there’s a better tomorrow, hope that there is an opportunity for me, hope that I’m going to get my fair shake," Penny said.