Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) will be entering its 23rd year of play in 2012. From its inception in 1989 through the 2011 season, RBI has grown from a local program for boys in South Central Los Angeles to an international campaign encompassing more than 200 cities and as many as 200,000 male and female participants a year. In 2010 Jr. RBI was launched, designed to create new playing divisions that provide baseball and softball opportunities for children ages 5-12 that also serve as a feeder to the current RBI 13-18 baseball and softball divisions.
John Young, a former Major League Baseball player and scout, developed the concept of RBI to provide disadvantaged youth an opportunity to learn and enjoy the game of baseball. Mr. Young decided that the best way to revive baseball in South Central LA would be to introduce a comprehensive youth baseball program for 13- to 16-year-olds. This program would not only encourage participation in baseball and expand the pool of talented prospects, but, more importantly, it would provide young people with a positive, team-oriented activity that would keep them off the streets while challenging them mentally and physically. Major League Baseball endorsed the RBI concept and provided financial support for the program, as did the Los Angeles Dodgers and the City of Los Angeles. While the youth of Los Angeles were initially a little skeptical - only 11 showed up for the first tryout - they gradually began to embrace RBI, and 180 kids participated the first season.
Major League Baseball, which has administered the RBI program since 1991, serves as the central administrative office for RBI and, from 1993 to 1996, along with Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), provided start-up grants for programs demonstrating financial need. Since the inception of the program, Major League Baseball and its Clubs have designated more than $30 million worth of resources to the RBI program. Former National League President Leonard Coleman was the first Major League Baseball executive to run the RBI program. Thomas C. Brasuell, Vice President of Community Affairs for Major League Baseball, managed the day-to-day administration of the program until 2008. In April of that year, David James became the first Director of RBI at MLB, a testament to the League's dedication to the RBI program.
A large component of the partnership established in early 1997 between Major League Baseball and one if its youth charities, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), was the merger and expansion of youth baseball and softball programs conducted separately by the two organizations. Off the field, local leagues also teach RBI players life skills through Sport Smart! -- a condensed, easy-to-use version of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's award-winning SMART (Skills Mastery and Resistance Training) Moves program. Developed for RBI, SportSmart! addresses the issues of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and HIV/AIDS prevention and education for 13- to 18-year-olds.
RBI leagues also are provided with a community version of Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life; a character education program based on the values demonstrated by Jackie Robinson. It is designed to teach children the values and traits they need to deal with barriers, obstacles and challenges in their lives. Other off-field programs are provided by the Partnership at Drugfree.org with their Time to Talk, Play Healthy, and Not in my House character education programs aimed at preventing and handling drug and alcohol abuse. The Taylor Hooton Foundation' Hoot's Chalk Talk raises awareness and provides education on the subject of the use of APEDs.
Leagues also motivate participants to stay in school and pursue post-secondary education, and school attendance/performance is a requirement for joining and remaining on many RBI teams. RBI has been embraced in so many communities because it teaches kids that being a success in life takes more than succeeding on the ballfield -- it also means succeeding in the classroom and in the community.
Major League Baseball Charities, Inc. established the RBI (Runs Batted In) for RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities) Scholarship Fund in 2007 to help provide financial assistance to youth who participate in the RBI program and wish to pursue secondary education. The RBI for RBI Scholarship provides annual scholarships of up to $5,000 to up to twelve RBI student-athletes who demonstrate academic achievement, leadership qualities, and financial need. Since 2008, the RBI for RBI Scholarship program has helped forty-two RBI student-athletes to enroll in prestigious institutions of higher learning across the country, including: Citadel University, Morehouse College (HBCU), Tuskegee University (HBCU), UCLA, University of Florida, Bucknell University, James Madison University, and Wittenberg University.
Since 1998, Major League Baseball has fielded a national RBI team that has participated in the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars and its predecessor, the National Amateur All-Star Baseball Tournament (NAABT). The USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, held each June, showcases the top 16- to 18-year-old players from (in addition to RBI) the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), American Legion, Babe Ruth Baseball, Dixie Baseball, National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF), PONY Baseball, and at-large teams from USA Baseball, the governing body of amateur baseball.
In 1993, Major League Baseball and the SGMA sponsored the inaugural RBI World Series. Hosted by the St. Louis Cardinals and the Mathews-Dickey Boys Club, a total of 378 mostly African-American and Latino youth from 12 cities participated. The Atlanta RBI teams swept the finals with the Junior Boys (ages 13 to 15) winning the John Young trophy, named for Young, and the Senior Boys (ages 16 to 18) taking home the Larry Doby Trophy, named for the first African-American to play in the American League.
In 1994, teams representing 10 U.S. cities, the Czech Republic, and Puerto Rico participated in the second RBI World Series, which was hosted by the California Angels. Puerto Rico captured both the Junior and Senior Division crowns.
The 1995 RBI World Series, hosted by the Philadelphia Phillies, saw the Atlanta and Los Angeles RBI teams win Junior and Senior titles, respectively. In addition, teams from Cleveland, Detroit, Louisville, Newark, New Haven, New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia competed in the first-ever RBI Girls Softball championships, with Newark winning the inaugural title.
The Cleveland Indians hosted the fourth RBI World Series in 1996. Puerto Rico won titles in all three divisions. The Colorado Rockies hosted the fifth RBI World Series in 1997. Miami won the Junior Boys title; the Girls Softball crown went to St. Petersburg, Florida, and Puerto Rico successfully defended the Senior Boys title.
In 1998, the RBI World Series expanded to 30 teams and moved to the Disney's Wide World of Sports complex just outside of Orlando. That year, titles were captured by San Juan (Junior Baseball), Atlanta (Senior Baseball) and Denver (Softball). In the 1999 RBI World Series at Disney, San Juan retained the Junior Baseball title and captured the Senior Baseball title, while Miami became the fifth different Softball champion in as many years. In 2000, Los Angeles RBI became the second program to win titles in all three divisions. In 2001, LA successfully defended its Junior title, while Tampa and Atlanta won the Senior and Softball championships, respectively.
In 2002, Major League Baseball reverted to the original format in which the RBI World Series is hosted by the Major League Baseball Club which will host the All-Star Game the following year. The Clubs provided support for the RBI World Series, including use of their stadium for various RBI-related activities. The Chicago White Sox hosted the RBI World Series' 10th Anniversary and the BaseballChampionship games were played at U.S. Cellular Field. Atlanta became the first Softball champion to repeat, and also captured the Junior Baseball title, while LA won the Senior Baseball title.
In 2003 the RBI World Series shifted to Houston, site of the 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Minute Maid Park was the site of the BaseballChampionship games in each division, as well as the Softball RBI Workout Day. The Atlanta girls won an unprecedented third title while LA successfully defended the Senior Baseball title and captured the Junior Baseball championship.
In 2004, the RBI World Series was held in Detroit, home of the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Comerica Park was the site of the BaseballChampionship games in each division. The Atlanta girls won an astounding fourth consecutive title while Miami captured the Senior Baseball title and Puerto Rico took home the Junior Baseball championship.
Pittsburgh, the site of the 2006 All-Star Game, was home of the 2005 RBI World Series. The Los Angeles Junior team captured the LA program's fourth RBI Junior Baseball title while the LA Senior boys took home the fifth title in the history of the LA Senior Baseball program. On the girls side, pitcher Tiffany Johnson threw a complete game no-hitter to lead Atlanta to its unprecedented fifth consecutive RBI World Series Softball title.
In 2006, the RBI World Series moved to the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton, CA. The Detroit Junior Baseball teambecame the first cold weather team ever to win an RBI World Series title and the LA Senior Baseball team successfully defended their championship and secured the sixth title in the history of their Senior Baseball program. Once again in the Softball division, Atlanta RBI won a remarkable sixth straight RBI World Series Softball championship.
The 2007, the RBI World Series returned to the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy. The Senior Baseball title went to Philadelphia, the city's first RBI World Series title in any division. Detroit again took the Junior Baseball title, and Atlanta claimed its unmatched seventh consecutive title in Softball.
In 2008, the RBI World Series again took place at the Urban Youth Academy. The Detroit Junior Baseball team continued their dominance in RBI World Series play at the Academy, winning their third consecutive title in the Series' third year at the complex. Los Angeles reclaimed their title in the Senior Baseballdivision, and Santo Domingo became the first new Softball champion in eight years.
In 2009, the RBI World Series moved to the Roger Dean Stadium Complex, the Spring Training home for the Florida Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Palm Beach Gardens Sports Complex in Jupiter, FL. The Venice Boys & Girls Club/Urban Youth Academy had a strong showing in the baseball divisions, winning both the Senior Division and the Junior Division championships. Hilo, HI avenged their 2008 championship-game loss by winning the Softball championship.
In 2010, the RBI World Series was held again the Roger Dean Stadium Complex and the Palm Beach Gardens Sports Complex in Jupiter, FL. Houston RBI was the a first time winner in the Senior Division and the Junior Division championship went to Dominican Republic RBI. LA RBI won the Softball championship.
In 2011, the RBI World Series moved to Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota, hosted by the Minnesota Twins. In games played at Target Field, Venice Boys & Girls Club claimed the Senior Baseball championship, RBI Dominicana (Dominican Republic) won the Baseball Junior division championship. The Softball championship game was played at the University of Minnesota and LA RBI defended their title and won the Softball championship for the second straight year.