BURBANK — Mike Boyd felt helpless when he watched news reports of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I would look at the news every day and see kid, after kid, after kid dying,” Boyd said. “I felt so much for our U.S. troops who were dying.”
Instead of wondering what he could do to help the troops, Boyd went into to action. He founded a series of “American Soldier Thank You” concerts to help raise funds for military personnel.
“It was something I needed to do for them, knowing all the things they have done for us,” said Boyd, the founder of Burbank-based Singboy Productions. “This is the least that I can do to say thank you to all those soldiers who have given so much for us.”
With a background in sports — he is the brother of former major-leaguer Dennis “Oil Can’ Boyd — and music, Boyd successfully brought together events honoring the troops.
One of those events, “American Soldier Thank You Concert and StandStill Baseball Exhibition Game,” will take place July 18 at Stengel Field in Glendale.
“This is our fifth American soldier concert,” Boyd said. “As long as their are soldiers fighting for us, I want to continue having concerts for them.”
Scheduled to appear at the concert are The Temptations Review, featuring Dennis Edwards, Cuba Gooding Sr, lead singer from the main Ingredient with hits “Everybody Plays the Fool” and “Just Don’t want to be Lonely,” the band Impromp2, Scorpio, who was Michael Jackson’s understudy, singers Chelsea, and Samona Cooke (daughter of Sam Cooke) and Blinky Williams and the Hollywood Choir.
Boyd himself will also perform, singing his song: “American Soldier Thank You (for all you do).”
Although the concert is important to Boyd, so is the event that will precede the music. There will be a StandStill Baseball exhibition. Former big-league players “Oil Can” Boyd, Rudy Law, Lee Lacy and Jay Johnstone are among the athletes who will take part.
“I am really excited about the StandStill Baseball games,” Mike Boyd said. “It is a great game, and a great game for the fans to watch.”
StandStill Baseball is a modern-day version of the old over-the-line-game. StandStill Baseball is a modified version of the sport, with a few different rules, six players per side and a scaled-down playing area where one side of the infield and outfield is in play. There is also no base running and hits are awarded by hitting the ball past — or over — fielders.
Boyd said he first came up with the concept of StandStill Baseball after being disillusioned and disappointed with the current game of baseball.
“I got frustrated watching pro baseball,” he said. “I got frustrated watching guys who are making an incredible amount of money crying like babies every day. And it really made me mad that guys who come from the ghetto, guys who would never have a chance in their lives, somebody is giving them a chance and letting them earn hundreds of millions of dollars and they’re complaining.
“Seeing this, I sat around and said ‘What can I do to bring baseball back to the guys who really want to play it?’ There are so many guys walking around frustrated and irritated, who could have been playing a level of ball, but who are out of baseball all together. I wanted to find a place where these athletes could play.”
However, it wasn’t until Boyd got together with five of his brothers on a baseball field to pay tribute to their mother, Sweetie, who had recently died, that the concept of StandStill took shape.
A lifelong baseball player, Boyd comes from a family that has grown up around the sport. Drafted by the Dodgers, he is one of 14 children of Negro League player Willie James Boyd.
“My mother was baseball crazy, so when she died I got together with Oil Can and four of my brothers on a baseball field for the first time in 20 years to celebrate her,” he said. “We didn’t have enough players, so we played a kind of modified baseball. And boy I’ll tell you, we played so competitively you would think we were playing in the major leagues.
“And while I was out there playing, God just started putting pictures in my head and things just come together.”