Personality: Corey M. Nicholson

Spotlight on board chairman of Metropolitan Junior Baseball League

6/16/2022, 6 p.m.
Corey M. Nicholson’s lifelong appreciation for baseball, its history and its impact, goes back to his childhood spent watching hours ...

Corey M. Nicholson’s lifelong appreciation for baseball, its history and its impact, goes back to his childhood spent watching hours of New York Mets games on black and white television with his grandparents.

Today Mr. Nicholson uses his passion and knowledge for the game to help guide the formative sports experiences of Richmond youths as board chairman for the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League.

“I have always loved baseball, so I enjoy knowing that the game I love is helping our kids and our community,” Mr. Nicholson says. “I feel like, in a very small way, we are working to save baseball in the African-American community.”

The New York native sees a deep connection between the sport and the history of African-Americans. Mr. Nicholson points to Jackie Robinson and the Negro Baseball League as having a major presence for the African-American community, serving as important touchstones for racial progress and equality.

Given MJBL’ s historic status in Richmond and beyond since its founding in 1966, Mr. Nicholson’s involvement would seem an obvious choice for him. He first joined MJBL about 15 years ago as a volunteer, inspired by an article about the organization that prompted him to call Bill Forrester, MJBL’ s executive director and the son of its founder, William M.T. Forrester.

Mr. Nicholson sees the non-profit league’s work as a benefit for the players, boys and girls ages 4 to 19, inside and outside the diamond.

“Due to the wide range of skill sets used in baseball, almost anyone can excel,” Mr. Nicholson says. “MJBL wants to help develop good people, not just good players.”

Even when COVID-19 temporarily halted MJBL’ s games, Mr. Nicholson and others continued the league’s work by hosting the Bobby Bonds Memorial Symposium July 20 through Aug. 10, 2020, on a virtual video platform. The symposium promotes interest in baseball among African-Americans, particularly for programs at historically black colleges and universities. In 2020, the program also honored the 100th year of the National Baseball League.

With the MJBL’ s 56th season starting earlier this month, Mr. Nicholson and others are exploring ways to expand MJBL’ s educational and cultural programs, which have ranged from book clubs to various initiatives with MJBL’ s partners.

Such programs are critical to ensuring the nonprofit is an all-around benefit for the approximately 350 children involved, as well as maintaining MJBL’ s finances.

“We want to provide more opportunities for the kids on and off the field,” Mr. Nichol- son says. “Ultimately, we have to continue to spread the word regarding MJBL and hopefully convert that buzz into fundrais- ing dollars.”

Mr. Nicholson’s strategy for reaching his goals speaks to the steadfast commitment he brings to his role and work with MJBL. It also is good advice for the children the nonprofit serves, whether out on the field or in their everyday lives.

“Keep focused and keep plugging away,” Mr. Nicholson says. “Small victories eventually lead to larger successes.”

Meet a local leader in Richmond youth sports, Corey M. Nicholson:

Volunteer position: Board president for the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League (MJBL).

Occupation: Henrico County assistant commonwealth’s attorney.

Date and place of birth: Jan. 21 in New York.

Where I live now: Richmond.

Education: Yale University 1986; Harvard Law School 1989.

Family: Lisa (wife); Morgan, Dominic, Jazmine, Chelsea (children); R.J., Madison, D.J., Ethan, Evan (grandchildren).

Metropolitan Junior Baseball League (MJBL) is: A volunteer-run nonprofit striving to keep organized baseball available to inner-city youths. It is one of the oldest African-American youth baseball leagues.

Mission: To provide a platform for socially and economically disadvantaged youths to realize their self-worth through edu- cational, athletic, and cultural enrichment programs. MJBL is focused on making sure our youths are productive citizens and prepared for success.

When, where and why founded: MJBL was founded in Richmond in 1966 after several African-American fathers were told that their sons could not play in the established youth baseball league because of their race. With the help of several local African-American businessmen, those fathers created MJBL so that all children could play organized baseball, no matter what race they were.

Founder(s): MJBL was founded by Dr. William M.T. Forrester along with the support of Caesar Barron and Dr. Philmore Howlette. Dr. Forrester’s son, Bill, is the current executive director.

Importance of MJBL in the world of Little League: MJBL has worked with youth baseball leagues all over the country and and in the Bahamas supporting efforts to keep baseball alive in inner-city and low-income areas.

How I connected with MJBL: I read an article about the MJBL (I believe it was in the Richmond Free Press) and I became a volunteer by calling Bill Forrester.

Why I am enthusiastic about MJBL: I have always loved baseball, so I enjoy knowing that the game I love is helping our kids and our community. I feel like, in a very small way, we are working to save baseball in the African-American community.

MJBL partners with: Major League Baseball, Henrico County, the City of Richmond, the Richmond Police Athletic League. Henrico County Board of Supervisors member Frank Thornton has always been helpful. Parney and the Flying Squirrels have been one of our biggest partners/supporters ever since they arrived.

Ways to become involved with MJBL: We are always looking to train new coaches and assistant coaches. We also need volunteers to help with the administrative tasks to keep the league running. We encourage people to support the kids by coming out to watch a game or two.

MJBL offers: A chance for our kids and the African-American community to rediscover the magic of baseball, and reignite the passion that we once had for it.

How to register your child: Go to our website MJBL.org to register online. There also is contact information there if you need to speak to someone.

When and where fans can come to cheer teams: We play games all over Richmond and Henrico, so you can find schedules at MJBL.org. We have several church groups and (fraternities and sororities) that have adopted teams to support. Please contact us if your group wants to adopt a team.

My favorite Major League Baseball team: New York Mets.

Favorite player and why: Jackie Robinson for what he means to African-Americans, baseball and America. He had to endure a tremendous amount of hatred. He handled it with grace and was able to overcome it.Heisaniconandarole model that all Americans can admire.

Little League baseball taught me: The need for teamwork. The rewards of hard work. The joy of spirited competition.

Upcoming events: Our current season is already underway. An MJBL team will represent the U.S. in the Caribbean Championships for the Bahamas from July 7-11. The MJBL’s 31st Annual Inner-City Classic will take place Aug. 3 - 7 in Richmond and Henrico.

A perfect day for me is: Rising early to enjoy a cup of coffee and enjoy the silence of the new day. A day at the beach with family. Ending the day with good food and music with family and friends.

What I am learning about myself during the pandemic: I drive my wife crazy if she does not get regular breaks from me.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Watch cheesy Christmas movies out of season.

A quote that inspires me: “Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” — James Baldwin.

My friends describe me as: Quiet, determined, and loyal.

At the top of my “to-do” list: Find partners to help fund and establish a tutoring/study skills program for the MJBL kids.

Best late-night snack: Cold pizza.

The best thing my parents ever taught me: The importance of education and being open to new things for living a full and well-rounded life.

The person who influenced me the most: My parents. They were both excellent role models and they were always supportive.

Book that influenced me the most: “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” as told to Alex Haley.

What I’m reading now: Re-reading “Before the Mayflower” by Lerone Bennett Jr. so I can share it with the grandkids.

Next goal: Help make MJBL’s Inner-City Classic a truly national tournament.