On Saturday morning, more than 400 young baseball and softball players from Think Detroit Pal RBI, Orchard Children's Services RBI and Detroit-area Boys & Girls Clubs, along with players from the three 2012 RBI World Series championship teams (baseball junior, senior and softball divisions), took part in a "Wanna Play?" event and skills clinic at Wayne State University.
Hall of Famer and MLB executive vice president of baseball development Frank Robinson, who leads MLB's Urban Youth Academies, headed up a large MLB and Tigers presence at the event. Also scheduled to participate were Barbaro Garbey, a member of the Tigers' most recent World Series championship club in 1984; Craig Monroe, a member of the Tigers' 2006 World Series team; MLB Network analyst and '06 Tigers alum Sean Casey; and Wayne State baseball coach Ryan Kelley.
In San Francisco, MLB dedicated Game 1 to the fight against cancer and Game 2 to Welcome Back Veterans, again using its greatest stage to activate citizens in hopes of making a difference together. Game 4 will celebrate community service, with a focus on Habitat for Humanity.
"The World Series provides our charitable partners with a platform to shed light on social issues that are critically important to Major League Baseball and our fans," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "As a social institution with important social responsibilities, Major League Baseball is proud to continue using the attraction of the Fall Classic to make a positive impact in people's lives."
MLB currently operates Urban Youth Academies in Compton, Calif., Houston and Gurabo, P.R., and two other Academies have been announced for Philadelphia and Hialeah, Fla. "Wanna Play?" is a multifaceted initiative dedicated to youth fitness, encouraging boys and girls ages 6-12 to increase their overall fitness and nutrition education through physical activity while learning fundamental skills of baseball and softball through fun and engaging activities.
In the ceremony before Game 3, MLB recognized one of the grand prize winners of the 2012 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life essay contest, as well as players from the three 2012 RBI World Series championship teams: Dominican Republic RBI (junior baseball), Jackie Robinson RBI (senior baseball) and Dominican Republic RBI (softball).
In April, Peter Hanhan, a ninth grade student from Valrico, Fla., was selected as a grand prize winner in the Breaking Barriers essay contest. Hanhan, whose essay recounts the courage it required to cope with being forcefully uprooted from his home in the West Bank, was joined by Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson and MLB educational programming consultant.
Boys & Girls Clubs 2012-13 National Youth of the Year Trei Dudley, 18, delivered the first ball. Dudley is a freshman at the University of Arkansas who has been dedicated to improving her community. Through her local Boys & Girls Club, Dudley has served as a positive example for younger Club members by volunteering at area soup kitchens and homeless shelters. She plans to use her Youth of the Year platform to empower other young people from similar backgrounds.
Staff Sgt. Amy Gould, who is a United States Army Vocalist of the 126 Army Band, performed God Bless America.
The RBI program, which is in its 24th year of operation, is an MLB youth initiative designed to give young people from underserved and urban communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic achievement and success and teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons. In 2012, the RBI program served more than 200,000 boys and girls in more than 300 programs established in more than 200 cities worldwide.