ATLANTA -- Hundreds of kids with big league aspirations will be competing for an opportunity to play at what is considered by fans many to be the most beautiful ballpark in the Major Leagues.
Pittsburgh will be the host of the 13th annual Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (R.B.I.) World Series, to be held Aug. 3-11, with PNC Park serving as the site of the championship games for each of the program's three divisions.
The RBI program, a youth baseball and softball initiative sponsored by Major League Baseball in conjunction with Boys & Girls Clubs, is one of many Major League Baseball initiatives dedicated to enhancing youth participation and interest in baseball and softball. Specifically, RBI is designed to promote interest in the sport, increase the self-esteem of disadvantaged children and encourage kids to stay in school and off the streets. RBI programs have been started in more than 200 cities worldwide, and annually have provided as many as 120,000 boys and girls the opportunity to play baseball and softball.
The RBI World Series is the championship round of the RBI program. The RBI World Series competition takes place in three divisions, Junior Boys (13-15 year olds); Senior Boys (16-18 year olds); and Girls Softball (18 and under).
The returning champions in each division -- San Juan (Junior Boys), Miami (Senior Boys) and Atlanta (Girls Softball) will travel to Pittsburgh to defend their titles against RBI teams from the host city and the winners of RBI regional tournaments in six geographical regions. San Juan, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Santo Domingo, Los Angeles, Miami, Schenectady, Washington D.C. will compete for the Junior Boys championship. Miami, Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Juan, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Newark and Washington D.C. will vie for the Senior Boys championship. Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Santo Domingo, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and St. Petersburg will compete for the Girls Softball championship.
The RBI program has been a conduit to professional baseball for many players. The 2005 First-Year Player Draft was a landmark event for RBI with 31 current RBI participants or RBI alumni drafted, including Justin Upton, the first overall pick.
RBI World Series alumni currently on Major League Baseball rosters include Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay Devil Rays), Covelli "Coco" Crisp (Cleveland Indians) and Luis Matos (Baltimore Orioles). In addition, Jimmy Rollins (Philadelphia Phillies) and Dontrelle Willis (Florida Marlins) also are RBI alumni.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.