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Sportswriter At-large

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Standard pickleball court. Compton now has 16 of them open to the public.

Pickleball racket makes a strong play for Compton

Dominguez High School site of 16

new courts


Contributing Writer

COMPTON (MNS)It’s a game that goes by the name of a preserved vegetable. It's called Pickleball, which, despite its name, has nothing to do with pickles or sand- wiches. It's actually one of the fastest-growing sports
in the country, now available in Compton.

The Sloane Stephens Foundation has teamed up with Break the Love and Walmart to provide free pickleball courts to the community at Manuel Dominguez High School, located at 15301 San Jose Ave, in Compton. This initiative is aimed at providing the community

with access to this fun and exciting sport.

Shineetra Frazier and her daughter Riley Woodson.jpg

(Top ) Shineetra Frazier, devoted tennis mom and her daughter, aspiring tennis

professional Riley Woodson, 13, who currently plays for Centennial High School for the
Sloane Stephens Foundation.

(Right) Sybil Smith, Sloane Stephens

executive director.

Sybil Smith, Exec. Director of the Sloane Stephens Foundation.jpg

Sixteen old tennis courts at the high school were renovated with new nets and repaved cement painted in fresh, vibrant colors. In addition, Walmart provided paddles and balls for the grand opening and has launched a Pickleball line of clothing and accessories.

“We are thrilled to partner with Walmart and Break the Love to get this event off the ground and to introduce the entire Compton com- munity to Pickleball,” said Sybil Smith, executive director of the Sloane Stephens Foundation. “This project was six months in the

making. It’s very special.

Pickleball is a racket or paddle sport in which two players (singles) or four players (doubles) hit a perforated, hollow plastic ball with paddles over a 34-inch-high net until one side is unable to return the ball or commits a rule infraction. Pickleball is played indoors and outdoors. It was invented in 1965 as a children's backyard game in the US on Bainbridge Island in Washington state. In 2022, the sport was named the official state sport of Washington.


While it resembles tennis and table tennis, pickleball has separate rules, paddles, and court dimensions. The court is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide, and the paddle is larger than the one used in table tennis. The hard plastic ball used in pickleball produces less bounce than tennis balls.


On each side of the net is a 7-foot area known as the non-volley zone (or the kitchen), where the ball must bounce before it is hit. The rules specify side-out scoring, where only the server can score a point. The minimal amount of bounce, the non-volley zones, and the underhanded stroke with which all serves are made, give the game a dynamic pace.

Compton's three high schoolsCentennial, Compton and Dominguezhave produced many professional athletes in multiple disciplines down through the years, among the most heralded, mega tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. Now pickleball may one day add to the city's hall of fame.

“It’s really nice to introduce the Compton community to Pickleball and to see everyone loving it,” said Smith, who is also Stephens’ mother and a former school psychologist. 

A professional tennis player, Stephens founded the Sloane Stephens Foundation in 2013 with a primary goal of enhancing the quality of life for youth through exposure to tennis as a basis for life-long learning and healthy lifestyle choices.

Break the Love is a social sport booking platform that breaks down the most common barriers to playing recreational racquet sports. Through its partnership with Walmart, it has unlocked 125+ free Pickleball reservations nationwide. Compton is the organization’s most recent activation.

“We are thrilled to give back to the community with access to Pickleball equipment from our partners at Walmart and programming with the Sloane Stephens Foundation this year,” said Trisha Goyal, founder of Break the Love.

Smith said initially, she was worried that there wouldn’t be a good turnout, but almost all of the courts were occupied by new and experienced local players.

“This is my first day, and I just love it,” said Riley Woodson, 13, who recently played in a tennis tournament at Lakewood Tennis Center earlier, winning second place. She also plays tennis with the Sloane Stephens Foundation.

“I just love how competitive it is,” said Woodson, who has been playing tennis since she was four years old. “And it’s really amazing because when you’re at the net, I just feel this sensation. It’s like tennis.” 

“We are grooming her to play professional tennis,” said Shineetra Frazier, Riley’s mother. “This is what she wants."

For more information visit

mlb compton.jpg

What about Compton's Urban Youth Academy?

COMPTON (MNS)—Major League Baseball's first Urban Youth Academy was founded in 2006 in Compton, California. As a not-for-profit organization, the UYA aims to set the standard for baseball and softball instruction, teach and educate in Urban America and enhance the quality of life in the surrounding communities.

MLB's four facets of the youth academies are:

  1. Grow the games of baseball and softball while cultivating diversity in all aspects of the game.

  2. Make meaningful contributions to the development of urban communities.

  3. Provide safe and organized recreational activities for urban youth.

  4. Prepare urban high school players for college and professional baseball and softball programs.


The coaching staff consists of highly experienced baseball and softball personnel. We specialize in fundamental instruction by way of open workouts. Workouts give members practical and theoretical training on the fundamen- tals of the game, while the academy's educational component aids students in the classroom. It is believed the skills learned in baseball and softball can be applied beyond the field, helping to shape a better community.


Registration is free, but the academy kindly asks for a $25 donation for each child when first registering for a program at the academy. The donation is optional and additional contributions are always welcome.

Parents are asked to upload their child's most recent report card (e.g. pdf, jpeg or screenshot - File size 3 MB or less) during the online registration process.

How it came to be

Major League Baseball (MLB) selected TEC as General Contractor to build its Youth Academy, a permanent facility in Compton. The purpose of the Academy is to cultivate the talents of young minorities on and off the baseball field, by providing year-round baseball and academic instruction.

The first of its kind, the baseball academy and youth center is owned and operated by MLB. The facilities are on the Compton Community College campus. The project includes a baseball field built to minor league ballpark specifications, complete with stadium lighting, seating, press box, full-size practice baseball field, softball field, and youth-size baseball field.


The site includes an entry esplanade, 10,000-SF clubhouse with lockers, administrative offices, maintenance facility, and separate batting cages and pitching mounds. The three fields encompass approximately 13 to 14 acres of development.

MLB committed substantial financing to the development of the Urban Youth Initiative and has a partnership with local governments providing significant operating concessions.


MLB stars who hailed from Compton include Reggie Smith, Kenny Landreaux, Duke Snider, Charles Bates, Eric Raich, Lonnie Smith, Roy White, Don Wilson, Rico Smith Jr., and Dennis Thurman  

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Ohtani wears Dodger Blue  

$700m doozy biggest deal in sports history



LOS ANGELES (—Consider that “top priority” handled for the Dodgers—and emphatically so.

After a fervent sweepstakes, reigning American League Most Valuable Player Shohei Ohtani has


Shohei Ohtani

agreed to terms with the Dodgers on a record-demolishing 10-year, $700 million deal, according to his agent, Nez Balelo.

“To all Dodgers fans, I pledge to always do what’s best for the team and always continue to give it my all to be the best version of myself,” Ohtani wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday. “Until the last day of my playing career, I want to continue to strive forward not only for the Dodgers but for the baseball world.”

“This is a unique, historic contract for a unique, historic player,” Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, said in a statement. “Shohei is thrilled to be a part of the Dodgers organization. He is excited to begin this partnership, and he structured his contract to reflect a true commitment from both sides to long-term success. Shohei and I want to thank all the organizations that reached out to us for their interest and respect, especially the wonderful people we got to know even better as this process unfolded.

"We know fans, media and the entire industry had a high degree of interest in this process, and we want to express our appreciation for their passion and their consideration as it played out.”

Historic, indeed. Ohtani's is believed to be the largest contract in worldwide sports history, surpassing soccer superstar Lionel Messi's $674 million deal with FC Barcelona from 2017-21. (It also surpasses the roughly $679 million Kylian Mbappé would earn if he opts to stay with PSG through 2025.)

In terms of the history of North American team sports, it exceeds Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' 10-year, $450 million extension; in baseball, it surpasses now-former teammate Mike Trout, who agreed to a 12-year, $426.5 million extension with the Angels in 2019.

As for free-agent deals, it’s the largest by dollar amount in MLB history by $340 million, surpassing Aaron Judge’s nine-year, $360 million contract inked ahead of the 2023 season. It shatters the record for average annual value for an MLB contract, previously set by Max Scherzer at $43.3 million with the Mets ahead of the 2022 season, then tied by Justin Verlander with the Mets a year later.

Details about Ohtani’s free agency were mostly sparse, with manager Dave Roberts providing a rare bit of candidness at the Winter Meetings by simply disclosing the Dodgers had met with the player. But this past week -- and Friday in particular—saw much speculation and conflicting reports about Ohtani’s plans and even where in the world he was. Up until Saturday’s announcement, the prevailing sentiment had the Blue Jays as the frontrunner following a late push.

Ohtani, who will turn 30 on July 5, is locked up through 2033, which will be his age-39 season. A two-time unanimous MVP, three-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger and the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year, Ohtani has been far and away the most impressive two-way player in MLB history. Across six seasons with the Angels, he slashed .274/.366/.556 with 171 home runs and a 148 OPS+. On the mound, he posted a 3.01 ERA with 608 strikeouts, a 1.08 WHIP and 142 ERA+ over five seasons (he did not pitch in 2019 following Tommy John surgery).

Although Ohtani won’t be available to pitch in 2024 as he recovers from October surgery to repair his right UCL, he’ll slot in nicely as the Dodgers’ designated hitter next season, joining National League Most Valuable Player runners-up Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman atop the lineup. Ohtani is coming off his best season at the plate, in which he led the AL in homers (44) and OBP (.412) while leading MLB in slugging (.654) and WAR (10.0, per Baseball Reference).

Per’s Mark Feinsand, Ohtani’s deal includes what one source called “unprecedented deferrals,” including the majority of his salary—which was Ohtani’s idea. He wanted to mitigate the CBT and cash-flow burdens to let the Dodgers have the flexibility to be competitive.

There are also tax benefits because of the deferrals, the source told Feinsand, but they were “primarily about allowing the team to be successful on the field, because above all else, he wants to win.”


That flexibility will be important, as Ohtani now being off the table allows the trade and free-agent markets to get moving—and the Dodgers still have moves they must make, even with their new superstar in tow. The biggest need is at least a couple of starting pitchers to reinforce a currently thin staff. The biggest available options via trade are the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes, the Rays’ Tyler Glasnow and Dylan Cease of the White Sox, all three of whom the Dodgers have been linked to.

Sarah Wexler is a reporter/editor for based in Los Angeles.


Los Angeles Dodgers power-hitting first baseman Gil Hodges was elected to the Hall of Fame on Dec. 5, 2022 receiving 12 votes—the minimum required for election—from the 16-member committee. Courtesy LA Dodgers 

Dodgers retire Gil Hodges' No. 14 

The Los Angeles Dodgers have retired the No. 14 worn by Gil Hodges, the power-hitting first baseman on the Brooklyn Dodgers teams of the 1950s, six months after his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The number is the 11th in team history to be retired and first since Aug. 14, 1998 when Don Sutton's No. 20 was retired, eight months after his election to the Hall of Fame.

The ceremony coincided with the New York Mets' lone regular-season series against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Hodges concluded his playing career with the Mets in 1963 and managed them from 1968 until his death on April 2, 1972, two days before what would have been his 48th birthday.

Hodges guided the Mets to the 1969 World Series championship after they had never finished higher than ninth during their first seven seasons. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Golden Days Era Committee on Dec. 5, receiving 12 votes—the minimum required for election—from the 16-member committee, which considers candidates whose primary contribution to the game came from 1950-69. He had failed to be elected by the Golden Era Com- mittee in 2011 and 2014.

Hodges was considered for selection by the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee beginning in 1987, but was never elected. The closest he came to being elected in voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America was in 1983, his 15th and final ballot appearance under rules at the time, appearing on 63.4 percent of the ballots, with 75 percent being required for election.

The slugging first baseman is second in Dodger history in home runs (361) and RBI (1,254), third in total bases (3,357), extra-base hits (703) walks (925), fourth in games played (2,006) and fifth in runs scored (1,088). He shares the team's single-game records for home runs with four and RBI with nine.

During the era there was no draft, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Hodges as an amateur free agent on Sept. 6, 1943 and made his professional debut with them on Oct. 3, 1943, playing third base, striking out twice and walking once in three plate appearances in a 6-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on the final day of the season.

Hodges spent the next two years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He returned to the Dodgers organization for the 1946 season, playing 129 games for Newport News and leading the Class B Piedmont League catchers in putouts, assists and fielding percentage.

Hodges returned to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, wearing No. 14. The No. 4 jersey he wore in his 1943 major league debut was given to another future Hall of Famer, Duke Snider. He made seven consecutive All-Star Game appearances from 1949-55, all seasons in which he drove in more than 100 runs, and became an eight-time All-Star in 1957. When Gold Glove awards were handed out for the first time in 1957, Hodges was a recipient, as he was each of the following two seasons.

Hodges drove in both runs in the Dodgers' 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, their only World Series championship in Brooklyn. He hit .391 in the Dodgers six-game victory over the
Chicago White Sox in the 1959 World Series, including an eighth-inning tie-breaking homer in Game 4 that gave the Dodgers a 5-4 victory and 3-1 series lead.

Hodges played with the Dodgers through 1961 when he was chosen by the Mets in the expansion draft to stock them for their inaugural 1962 season. Hodges began his managerial career with the Washington Senators in 1963, remaining with them through the 1967 season.

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Los Angeles Clippers artist rendering

Intuit Dome: ‘A basketball palazzo’ cometh destined for Inglewood

First up. At the outset of the 2021-22 season of the National Football League, it’s only fitting to report the great Jim Brown, formerly of Syracuse University and the NFL Cleveland Browns, was enshrined with a bronze statue Sept. 4, outside of Brown Stadium… After each home game at SoFi Stadium during the 2021 NFL season, Los Angeles Rams Tackle and team captain Andrew Whitworth will make a $20,000 donation to help repair homes in his home state of Louisiana and move Angelenos facing housing insecurity into homes as part of his “Big Whit Homes for LA Families” program, Now that’s benevolence.

Now to the biggest news of the week involving Inglewood, Calif. Groundbreaking finally occurred on the $1.8 billion Intuit Dome arena, the future home of the Los Angeles Clippers at the corner of South Prairie Avenue and West Century Boulevard.

Superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined owner Steve Ballmer in the ground breaking on Friday, Sept. 17, thrusting chrome-tipped shovels into a ceremonial make-shift box of soil where the 18,000-seat arena will be built. The architectural design will seat fans closer to the court and Steve Ballmer, owner and Clippers No. 1 fan excitedly described some of the distinguishing hallmarks the forthcoming arena will offer. Ballmer promised state-of-the-art technology featuring a two-sided oval scoreboard with 44,000 square feet of LED lights, about 37,000 than most current NBA scoreboards.


“I like to think about the Dome as a basketball palazzo—homage to the game of basketball,” Ballmer said. “It’s not the Hall of Fame, but with as many championships as we’re going to win here, it’ll be better than the Hall of Fame.” 

Ballmer expressed glee that upon completion, the Intuit Dome will offer the Clippers and the organization an arena of their own. The ceremony had the air of a pep rally with special guests in attendance from local and state officials, players and team executives, to specially-selected fans. The energy that resonated was the LA Clippers’ eagerness to create its own brand and space away from Staples Center and the co-tenant arrangement with the Lakers, Kings, and Sparks. The entire Clippers business operations will be housed beneath a solar-panel-clad roof.

“If you share a building with not one, but two teams, it’s a very difficult task, it really is,” said Jerry West, the former Lakers great, NBA Hall-of-Famer, and consultant to Ballmer and Clippers executives since 2017. “For the players, when they go to the Intuit Dome, they know this building is dedicated to them.”

“It will be a fresh start in a new arena that [will be] Home Sweet Home,” Ballmer said.


Ballmer purchased the team in 2014, initially planning to remain downtown LA long-term, but within a year the Clippers organization was scouting locations spurred by a need to distinguish the team’s identity. In 2016 Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts and Ballmer met at the Marina-Del-Rey Ritz-Carlton to discuss a basketball arena whose construction is only now beginning after years of costly legal wrangling. The Clippers did not take
possession of the final parcels of land for the complex until summer this year after the City acquired the remaining land through eminent domain. 


Ballmer recounted the months of jousting back and forth and said with a chuckle— “Mayor Butts, boy," he sighed, "we’ve been through it.” 


Now, just three years remains to deliver “the singular best place for fans and players throughout the World,” Ballmer said. By the way, the roof of the Dome will be emblazoned with the brand Intuit, the Silicon Valley-based software
company best known for Turbo Tax, whose licensing agreement is 23 years for an undisclosed sum.


Ballmer shared a host of digital technology firsts for a sports arena, including a 4700-seat section behind the opposing team bench, dubbed “The Wall” reaching 51 rows high on a steep slope. It will be akin to Fenway Park’s left-field “Wall,” and Duke University’s student section. Ballmer said the team will have a contingency plan in case of delays but was confident the organization will move in on time to allow customers to secure and watch games from “courtside cabanas” modeled after field-level suites in the NFL.

Fans will be able to make purchases from “smart” concession stands that will charge customers automatically without long checkout lines or a wallet, “technology willing,” said Gillian Zucker, business operations manager.

Five basketball courts will adorn the complex with two for community use.

“I feel a little bit like a kid on Christmas,” Ballmer said. “You see that big present sitting there—you know it’s not time to open it yet, so what do you start doing?  Well, I want to rip the paper; you look inside. The only problem we
have right now is, it’s three years before we get a chance to open the damn thing!”

Got to love the man. He’s real! 

Ballmer reiterated that he will contribute 80 million dollars toward affordable housing in the city. But you can never please everyone. Prior to the ceremony, roughly a dozen protesters appeared on Prairie Avenue displaying signs criticizing the looming construction and its potential impact on local residents.

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