Major League Baseball today announced the twenty-four baseball and softball teams advancing to the 2016 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series, which will be hosted by the Cincinnati Reds for the first time in the tournament's 24-year history. The 2016 RBI World Series will feature young men and women on RBI teams from 19 cities around the United States and the Dominican Republic. The event, which will be held August 3-16, will include tournament games (seeding, playoff and championship), workout days, banquets, community service events and additional opportunities for the participants. The RBI World Series is the international championship tournament of the RBI program, the MLB youth initiative designed to provide young people from underserved and diverse communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball.
Baseball tournament seeding and playoff games of the RBI World Series will be played at several locations throughout Cincinnati including Xavier University, the P&G Cincinnati MLB Youth Academy and Great American Ball Park (GABP), the home of the Reds. All baseball teams will have the special opportunity to play one game in GABP. . The baseball championship games will be played at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Youth Academy. Softball tournament games will be played at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Youth Academy and Mason High School. The softball championship game will be played at the Miami University (OH) Softball Complex. The Senior Division Baseball Championship and Softball Championship games will stream LIVE on MLB.com. MLB.com analyst Daron Sutton will call play-by-play for both games with former Major Leaguers Dmitri Young and Marlon Anderson providing analysis for the baseball championship and former NCAA women's softball champion Destinee Martinez providing analysis for the softball championship.
MLB and the RBI program will honor RBI founder John Young with all players of the RBI World Series wearing a "JY" patch on their World Series uniforms. Young, who founded the program in South Central Los Angeles in 1989, passed away in May 2016.
The following is a complete list of cities (and leagues) represented in this year's RBI World Series:
Junior Baseball Teams (Ages 13-15)
Atlanta, GA (Atlanta Metro RBI)
Baltimore, MD (Baltimore Orioles RBI)
Chicago, IL (Chicago White Sox RBI)
Detroit, MI (Detroit PAL RBI)
Hilo, HI (Nobu Yamauchi RBI)
Houston, TX (Houston Astros RBI)
Pawtucket, RI (Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket RBI)
Santiago, DR (Dominican Republic North RBI)
Senior Baseball Teams (Ages 16-18)
Chattanooga, TN (Chattanooga RBI)
Cincinnati, OH (Cincinnati Reds RBI)
Harrisburg, PA (Harrisburg RBI)
Houston, TX (Houston Astros RBI)
Milwaukee, WI (Milwaukee Brewers/Greater Milwaukee BGC RBI)
Passaic, NJ (Passaic RBI)
Phoenix, AZ (Arizona RBI)
Santo Domingo, DR (Dominican Republic South RBI)
Softball Teams (Ages 19 and under)
Anaheim, CA (Angels RBI)
Atlanta, GA (Brown Mills RBI)
Cleveland, OH (Cleveland Baseball Federation RBI)
Harrisburg, PA (Harrisburg RBI)
Hoboken, NJ (Hoboken RBI)
Houston, TX (Houston Astros RBI)
St. Louis, MO (Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club RBI)
Santo Domingo, DR (Dominican Republic RBI)
In order to earn a spot in this year's RBI World Series, teams from 25 states, Washington, D.C. Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela competed in RBI Regional Tournaments. Baltimore (Baltimore Orioles RBI),Chattanooga (Chattanooga RBI), Milwaukee (Milwaukee Brewers/Greater Milwaukee Boys & Girls Clubs RBI) andPassaic, New Jersey (Passaic RBI) have qualified for the first time in RBI World Series history. Eight teams in the championship tournament represent RBI programs run by MLB clubs, including those from the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels and Milwaukee Brewers. Historically, ten countries and U.S. territories around the world have competed in the RBI World Series, including the United States, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Thomas, United Kingdom and Venezuela. Seven MLB cities which have hosted previous RBI World Series are represented in the 2016 tournament. Additional notes include:
- Anaheim is making its eighth overall appearance and the first softball berth since 2007.
- The two teams from Atlanta represent the 33rd and 34th appearances for the city, which is the fourth most in RBI World Series history. It is their first baseball appearance since 2012 and their softball team has clinched a berth for the fifth time in six years.
- The junior division baseball team from Chicago represents the 30th appearance for the city, which is tied for sixth most in RBI World Series history. A team from Chicago has represented in the Junior Division in 12 of the last 15 years.
- Cincinnati is making its second consecutive appearance in the Senior Division and fifth overall. It is the first time a host city's team has played in the tournament since 2008.
- Cleveland, the defending softball champion, is making its 22nd appearance and 12 of those have been in softball (including in 2016).
- Detroit has had at least one team in the RBI World Series every year since 2003. This year marks the city's 26th overall appearance. It is making its sixth consecutive appearance in the Junior Division and 12th in the last 13 years.
- Harrisburg's softball team earned its sixth consecutive berth, while its senior division baseball team has earned its fifth appearance in the last six years.
- Hilo's Junior Division team is making the city's first baseball appearance since 2002 and just second overall.
- Hoboken's softball team is making its seventh consecutive appearance.
- Houston has a team in each division in the 2016 RBI World Series, which is the eighth time for the city and the second most-ever for any city in RBI World Series history (Los Angeles - 11 times). Houston has now had 41 teams in the RBI World Series, which is second-most.
- Pawtucket is making its 13th overall appearance and the third in the last four years.
- Phoenix's Senior Division baseball team is making its second consecutive appearance and the third in the last five years.
- St. Louis, host of the first RBI World Series in 1993, is making its 15th overall appearance, and has been represented in the Softball Division in five of the last six years.
- The Dominican Republic is making its 31st overall appearance, its 12th consecutive appearance in the Junior Division, its sixth consecutive in the Softball Division and its first Senior Division appearance since 2013.
The baseball portion of the RBI World Series launches Tuesday, August 2nd with an Opening Picnic at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Youth Academy, with games beginning on Thursday, August 4th. On Wednesday, August 3rd, the young men will participate in the annual MLB Scouting Bureau "Workout Day" where they will showcase their skills in front of professional scouts and collegiate recruiters. The softball Workout Day, which is open for collegiate coaches to attend, and the game schedule will both take place on Friday, August 12th. Both baseball and softball teams will participate in a community service event with Feed the Children on their respective Workout Days.
As a fully compliant program within Pitch Smart guidelines, all RBI World Series pitchers will operate under Pitch Smart pitch count limits.
Additional experiences for the hundreds of RBI players will include 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. Twelve "RBI for RBI" scholarship recipients ($20,000 per student-athlete) will be recognized at the August 7th and August 11th RBI World Series banquets. In 2008, Major League Baseball established the "RBI for RBI" Scholarship Fund, a program created to provide financial support in the form of scholarships ($5,000 annually) to deserving high school seniors who participate in an RBI program league.
The RBI program has provided a path for many players to enter the college and professional game. More than 200 RBI participants have been drafted by MLB Clubs throughout the program's 28-year history, and many others were given the opportunity for higher education through baseball and softball scholarships. There have been approximately 65 RBI players selected in the 2013-2016 MLB Drafts, many of whom have played in the RBI World Series (between 2009 and 2015). Approximately 90 RBI alumni have been drafted since 2008.
Alumni on MLB rosters during the 2016 regular season include Michael Bourn (Arizona Diamondbacks), Carl Crawford (free agent), Coco Crisp (Oakland Athletics), Yovani Gallardo (Baltimore Orioles), Chris Iannetta (Seattle Mariners), James Loney (New York Mets), Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals), CC Sabathia (New York Yankees), Hector Santiago (Los Angeles Angels), Steven Souza, Jr. (Tampa Bay Rays), 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. NBC News senior food analyst and former White House chef Sam Cass is also an RBI World Series alumnus.
The RBI program, which has served approximately 2 million young people since its inception, is administered by Major League Baseball and is designed to give young people from underserved and diverse communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, while also encouraging academic achievement and success and teaching the value of teamwork and other important life lessons. RBI currently serves approximately 230,000 young men and women in over 300 programs established in approximately 200 cities worldwide. 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 RBIWorld Series, please visit MLB.com/rbiworldseries.