The Texas Rangers will host the 2014 and 2015 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series, the international championship tournament of the RBI program, it was announced today. The RBI program is the Major League Baseball youth initiative designed to provide young people from underserved and diverse communities with 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.
The baseball championship games will be played at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, while the other tournament games will be played at various locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area, including fields in Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake, from August 6th to 17th. The softball championship game will be played at Northwood University in Cedar Hill, Texas. This is the first time the Rangers have hosted the RBI World Series, and the second time the tournament has been hosted in the State of Texas (Houston in 2003). The Rangers hosted the RBI Southwest Regional Tournament at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 2012 and 2013.
"We are very pleased that the Texas Rangers, who have demonstrated enormous enthusiasm for the RBI World Series, will host our festivities for the next two years," Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said. "The RBI World Series provides an enriching experience for young people from underserved communities. This extraordinary opportunity includes the chance to play in a big-league ballpark, but more importantly it has the potential to open the minds of our participants to life's possibilities beyond baseball. I thank the Rangers for sharing our commitment to the kids of the RBI Program."
"The Texas Rangers are proud to be the hosts of the RBI World Series for the next two years," commented Rangers Baseball Foundation President and team Hall of Famer Jim Sundberg. "The Rangers have made it a priority to improve the lives of youngsters in our community by supporting the great work of RBI and giving kids an opportunity to play baseball. We look forward to working with Major League Baseball and the area cities to create a great event for the participants from the United States and around the World."
Five-time All-Star and Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder said: "As a father of two boys, I think it is awesome what RBI does in creating opportunities for kids to play the game. The more chances, the better baseball has to grow young players."
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 2014. Regional winners earn berths in the RBI World Series. 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 event, attending a Rangers game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, 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 Commissioner Selig; Baseball Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Andre Dawson, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield and Tommy Lasorda; Sharon Robinson; and MLB Network analyst and 12-year MLB veteran Harold Reynolds, 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 2013 regular season included: Michael Bourn (Cleveland Indians), Carl Crawford (Los Angeles Dodgers), Coco Crisp (Oakland Athletics), Yovani Gallardo (Milwaukee Brewers), James Loney (Tampa Bay Rays), Manny Machado (Baltimore Orioles), James McDonald (free agent), Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals), CC Sabathia (New York Yankees), Tyler Skaggs (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Justin Upton (Atlanta Braves) and Chris Young (New York Mets), among others. Dominic Smith (BGC of Venice RBI - '09/'10), J.P. Crawford (BGC of Venice RBI - '09), Carl Crawford (Houston RBI - '97), James Loney (Houston RBI - '99), James McDonald (LA RBI - '02), Coco Crisp (LA RBI - '95, '96) and Yovani Gallardo (Fort Worth RBI - '03) have each played in the RBI World Series.
More than 200 RBI participants have been drafted by MLB Clubs throughout the program's 26-year history, and many others were given the opportunity for higher education through baseball and softball scholarships. Fifteen alumni from the RBI program were selected in the 2013 MLB Player Draft, including New York Mets first round pick Dominic Smith (11th overall) and Philadelphia Phillies first round pick J.P. Crawford (16th overall), who are both alumni of the Boys & Girls Club of Venice RBI program and the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton. Additional RBI alumni drafted in 2013 were Kevin Franklin (Venice BGC/UYA, 2nd round, CIN); Matt McPhearson (DC RBI, 4th round, ARZ); Cory Simpson (Houston RBI, 6th round, SEA); Tyler Mahle (Angels RBI, 7th round, CIN); Willie Allen (Boston Red Sox RBI, 16th round, WAS); Fabian Roman (Jersey City RBI, 16th round, CIN); John Slater (Detroit Arsenal RBI, 31st round, ATL); Corey Ray (Chicago White Sox RBI, 33rd round, SEA); Cory Jordan (Houston RBI, 35th round, TB); Marshawn Taylor (Chicago White Sox RBI, 35th round, SEA); Juan Avena (Venice BGC/UYA, 37th round, NYM); Ro Coleman (Chicago White Sox RBI, 40th round, CWS); and Sal Mendez (Jersey City RBI, 40th round, TEX). Eight of these RBI alumni (Avena, Coleman, Crawford, Mendez, Ray, Roman, Simpson and Smith) have participated in the RBI World Series.
The RBI program, which is in its 26th year of operation, 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, encourage academic achievement and success, and teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons. RBI currently serves more than 220,000 young men and women in over 300 programs established in approximately 200 cities worldwide. MLB and its Clubs have designated more than $30 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.