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Youth Sports History Lesson: The RBI Program

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The Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program has established itself as a staple in youth baseball and softball across the country. RBI is an outreach program designed to drive more participation and interest in both baseball and softball. RBI was created in 1989 by John Young in Los Angeles. Working as a scout for the Detroit Tigers, Young noticed the lack of participation by young African Americans in organized baseball. After receiving a donation of $50,000 from Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles, Young’s RBI program was officially underway. Major League Baseball took over operation of the program in 1991 and provided additional structure to RBI. Teams in the program compete in three divisions: Junior Boys, Senior Boys, and Girls Softball. The best teams in each division go on to play in the RBI World Series, following the May through August season. The Series is sponsored by MLB and aired on the MLB Network. RBI currently serves over 120,000 boys and girls in 185 cities nationwide, and Puerto Rico.

“The RBI program has many benefits,” said New York Yankee broadcaster Roberto Clemente Jr., who founded the Pittsburgh RBI program and is involved with the San Juan program.

“It keeps kids out of trouble and off the streets, while at the same time teaching them to stay in school. They earn self-esteem and self-respect,” he said. “The educational components help them to realize their potential and to work toward receiving college scholarships based not only on athletics but academics.”

Organizations across the country apply to the RBI program and once accepted they receive support from the MLB. Most of these organizations are small youth programs across the country but they also include youth programs of MLB teams such as the Reds, Rangers, Cubs, Phillies, White Sox, Pirates, Angels, Mariners, Rays, Orioles, Twins and Marlins. The RBI program does a great job of helping these youth baseball clubs achieve scale. It assists them in getting rid of paper registrations, flyers and gives them brand new technology as well as MLB partnership. Young’s creation has brought more and more kids out to play baseball each year, which has contributed to increased youth participation on the diamond nationwide.

To learn how the Los Angeles Dodgers RBI program has transcended sports, check our featured interview with the Executive Director of the Dodgers Foundation, Nichol Whiteman.

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LeagueApps

This piece was written by a member of the LeagueApps Sports Content Council. LeagueApps works with the highest calibre of independent journalists and industry experts in the country.
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