Major League Baseball has extended a special invitation to a youth baseball team from Newtown, Connecticut to play in the 5th annual Jr. RBI Classic during MLB All-Star Week to round out the 12 teams scheduled to play in the friendly, round-robin tournament. The Jr. RBI Classic, which features hundreds of young participants in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, provides kids (ages 11-12) with the opportunity to participate in MLB All-Star Week events and other off-field experiences, including rooming on a college campus and meeting current and former Major Leaguers. The tournament will be played from July 12th to July 15th on fields throughout Queens, NY, the host city borough of the 84th MLB All-Star Game. The team participates in the Newtown Baseball league, which serves approximately 675 youth, ages 5-18, and has been operating out of Newtown since 1948. In addition to this team from Newtown, the Jr. RBI Classic features RBI leagues from around the country, including several local programs from Harlem (NY), Hartford (CT) and Newark (NJ).
"This group of young men represents a community that has endured and demonstrated the strength of the human spirit following an incredibly difficult ordeal," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "Major League Baseball is honored to give them this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the Jr. RBI Classic, and we join everyone throughout our sport in wishing them well as they enjoy this Midsummer Classic experience."
Newtown Baseball Team Manager Joe Mailloux: "We are excited to accept and participate in the Jr. RBI Classic and the All-Star game related activities. It is a great opportunity for our kids to be a part of and to meet other players and coaches from across the country. We can't wait to get there."
MLB will be supplying the teams with uniforms, equipment and All-Star apparel. Additionally, the young athletes will have the opportunity to attend many All-Star events such as T-Mobile All-Star FanFest, SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and the Chevrolet Home Run Derby. Jr. RBI Classic players will also get the chance to meet MLB All-Star players, former Major Leaguers and celebrities, including Darryl "DMC" Matthews McDaniels from the legendary hip-hop group Run DMC at a Brooklyn Cyclones game early on in their Jr. RBI Classic experience.
The friendly, round-robin tournament will be held on baseball and softball fields throughout Queens, New York, including College Point Fields and Cunningham Park for baseball, and Alley Athletic Playground and St. John's University for softball. The Jr. RBI Classic Opening Ceremonies and ensuing skills clinic administered by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation will be held at the newly-renovated Hinton Park, which is located near Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets. The Jr. RBI playing divisions, established in 2010, provide opportunities for young people ages 5 to 12 to play baseball and softball. The initiative serves as a feeder program to the 13-18 age playing divisions of the RBI program.
Following is the full list of cities (and leagues) represented in the 2013 Jr. RBI Classic:
- Denver, Colorado (Colorado Rockies RBI) - Softball
- Detroit, Michigan (Detroit PAL RBI) - Softball
- Hartford, Connecticut (Mayor Mike Peters RBI) - Baseball
- Houston, Texas (South Central Sportz RBI/St. Monica Youth Sports Ministry RBI) - Baseball
- Greenbelt, Maryland (Prince George's County Boys & Girls Club RBI) - Baseball
- Los Angeles, California (Los Angeles Recreation & Parks RBI) - Baseball
- New York, New York (Harlem RBI) - Softball
- Newark, New Jersey (Newark RBI) - Baseball
- Newtown, Connecticut (Newtown Baseball) - Baseball
- Norfolk, Virginia (City of Norfolk RBI) - Baseball
- Reading, Pennsylvania (Olivet Boys & Girls Club RBI) - Softball
- Syracuse, New York (Boys & Girls Clubs of Syracuse RBI) - Baseball
Major League Baseball honored the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting during the opening games of the 2013 Regular Season. All players, managers, coaches, umpires and on-field personnel wore a symbolic ribbon patch and, with fans, observed a pre-game moment of silence in their opening games (March 31st to April 2nd) in a league-wide effort to remember the 26 individuals who lost their lives on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut.
In 2011, MLB extended a special invite to young players and coaches from the Joplin South Little League to participate in the Jr. RBI Classic during that year's All-Star Week in Phoenix. Every player and coach on the roster was selected based on their circumstances in the wake of the May 22, 2011 tornado that destroyed thousands of homes and businesses in Joplin.
The RBI program is a Major League Baseball youth initiative designed to provide opportunities to play baseball and softball, to encourage excellence and achievement in education, and to teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons for young people, ages 5 to 18, from underserved and urban communities. The RBI program is providing more than 210,000 boys and girls with the opportunity to play baseball and softball in more than 300 programs established in more than 200 cities worldwide. MLB and all 30 Clubs have designated more than $30 million worth of resources to the RBI program, and all 30 Clubs support RBI leagues. For more information, please visit: MLB.com/rbi.