LOS ANGELES -- Usually, Dodger Stadium will play host to 50 baseball players. On Saturday, with the team in Pittsburgh, it instead welcomed more than 100 times that number as gates opened for the third annual Dodgers RBI PlayerFest.
6,000 members of the Dodgers Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, run by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, were given the opportunity to spend the day at Chavez Ravine with activities and giveaways. Among the experiences was a rock climbing wall, bungee jumping, and running the bases in the infield.
"It's a really special day for our Dodgers RBI players. We invited all 6,000 out here with their families to have the opportunity to enjoy Dodger Stadium," LADF executive director Nichol Whiteman said. "We work with eight partners to execute the program in the community. Today we have our partners represented here by our kids, players, families [and] coaches. We invite our players out with their families, so it's really how we embody our program so it's a community, family affair."
The RBI program is part of Major League Baseball's larger program to give children in underserved communities access to baseball and softball while also providing education and life resources.
Prime example of that are financial literacy seminars for families and a station at the PlayerFest providing free eye exams and glasses, run by a LADF partner Vision To Learn. It's a program that has grown from 4,000 participants last year to 6,000 this year and draws from 35 different locations in the Los Angeles community.
"We're able to bring kids to Dodger Stadium through this program who otherwise have not come to Dodger Stadium," Whitman said. "The resources they're able to get out in the community, it's more than just baseball and softball."
While the actual Dodgers team was busy in Pittsburgh, Dodger alumni Al Ferrara, Lee Lacy, and Billy Ashley were on hand to sign autographs.
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.