Twelve youth teams -- eight baseball and four softball -- are headed to Anaheim, Calif. to compete in the Jr. RBI classic, a friendly 40-game tournament, as part of this year's All-Star Week. While several California teams won't have far to go, there are scheduled to be attendees from as far away as Puerto Rico, representing the Ciudad Deportiva Roberto Clemente RBI program. Youth ages 11-12 will compete in the tournament as a part of the Jr. RBI program, created in 2009 to expand the successful Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) initiative presented by KPMG.
"The RBI program's mission is to provide young people in underserved communities with opportunities to play baseball and softball," said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president of business for MLB, in the written announcement. "The creation of Jr. RBI has allowed Major League Baseball to positively impact the lives of a larger group of young players. This trip to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be an educational experience that will offer these young people with once-in-a-lifetime experiences."
The young fans' experience won't be limited to their own tournament. They'll also get the opportunity to participate in FanFest Legends clinics and attend All-Star week events including the XM Futures Game, Legends & Celebrity Softball game and the State Farm Home Run Derby. The youth won't walk away empty handed either, they will receive uniforms, equipment and All-Star Game apparel.
With the addition of the Jr. RBI playing divisions, which include ages 5 to 12, MLB has further spread baseball to underserved areas of the world, bringing the toal number of participants to nearly 175,000, with Jr. RBI constituting nearly 50,000 of those youth.
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.