"It is a proud day for the Cincinnati Reds and our community and we relish the opportunity to host the RBI World Series at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy," said Bob Castellini, Reds President & CEO. "It is Major League Baseball's vision and commitment to urban baseball and softball that helped build this complex and we are thrilled to see it used to host this international event in Cincinnati in 2016 and 2017."
In order to qualify for the RBI World Series, RBI leagues from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and South America will compete in eight RBI Regional qualifying tournaments, which will begin in June 2016. Regional winners earn berths in the RBI World Series, and, ultimately, 24 teams will compete in the RBI World Series in three divisions: Junior Baseball (13-15 year olds); Senior Baseball (16-18 year olds); and Softball (19 and under).
In addition to the games, other experiences for the hundreds of RBI players will include participating in a community service/"PLAY BALL" event, attending a Reds game at Great American Ball Park, and participating in a "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life" essay contest administered by Sharon Robinson, daughter of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson and MLB Educational Programming Consultant.
Past RBI World Series have featured appearances by the following: Baseball Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Andre Dawson, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield and Tommy Lasorda; and host club legends such as Tony Oliva (Minnesota Twins) and Ivan Rodriguez (Texas Rangers), among others.
The RBI program has provided a path for many players to enter the college and professional game. RBI alumni on MLB rosters during the 2015 regular season included: Michael Bourn (Atlanta Braves), Carl Crawford (Los Angeles Dodgers), Coco Crisp (Oakland Athletics), Yovani Gallardo (currently a free agent; Texas Rangers in 2015), Chris Iannetta (Seattle Mariners), James Loney (Tampa Bay Rays), Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals), CC Sabathia (New York Yankees), Hector Santiago (Los Angeles Angels), Justin Upton (Detroit Tigers) and Chris Young (Boston Red Sox). Crawford (Houston RBI - '97), Loney (Houston RBI - '99), Crisp (LA RBI - '95, '96) and Gallardo (Fort Worth RBI - '03) have each played in the RBI World Series.
More than 200 RBI alumni have been drafted by MLB Clubs, including 55 in the last four MLB Drafts and 80 since 2008. Many others were given the opportunity for higher education through baseball and softball scholarships. Recent notable selections in the MLB Draft include RBI World Series alumni Dominic Smith (11th overall, 2013, New York Mets), J.P. Crawford (16th overall, 2013, Philadelphia Phillies) and Dillon Tate (4th overall, 2015, Texas Rangers). Smith, Crawford and Tate also are all alumni of the Boys & Girls Club of Venice RBI program and the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton.
The RBI program, which is in its 28th year of operation, has served more than 2 million young people since its inception in 1989. RBI currently serves approximately 230,000 young men and women in over 300 programs around the United States, and internationally in Canada, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Curacao and Venezuela. MLB and its Clubs have designated more than $40 million worth of resources to the RBI program, and all 30 Clubs support RBI leagues. For more information about the RBI program and the RBI World Series, please visit MLB.com/rbi.