2014 RBI Program Run to be Run by The Astros

Major League Baseball announced today that The Astros Foundation will be launching the new Astros RBI League, a free baseball and softball program at the Astros Urban Youth Academy in 2014. This marks the first time the team has officially joined Major League Baseball in organizing an RBI program.

The newly MLB-chartered league in Houston, named "Astros RBI", is being funded by The Astros Foundation, the official team charity, and will be run by the Urban Youth Academy staff. Astros RBI will launch this spring, with games and tournaments in June and July. The league will include teams in three divisions: 18-and-under girls softball, 13-15 boys baseball and 16-18 boys baseball.

"The creation of the new RBI League is a terrific opportunity for inner city teens to hone their baseball and softball skills for free, " said Astros owner Jim Crane. "We know we have a lot of talent here in Houston and our new expanded RBI program teaches vital life skills -- like teamwork, perseverance and respect for others -- that are important off the field as well as on."

Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, (RBI) is a Major League Baseball program. Organized in 1989, RBI gives youngsters the opportunity to combine athletics and academics. The Astros Urban Youth Academy (UYA) is operated by The Astros Foundation and provides free baseball and softball instruction, life skills training and academic support to Houston youth, with a focus on serving inner city and at-risk children and teens.

The Astros Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park on the north side of Houston boasts experienced instructors and hosts baseball and softball camps, clinics and other activities year round, free of charge, to youngsters ages 7 to 17. In addition to the new Astros RBI program, the UYA staff will also provide mentoring, leadership development and assistance with the college application process.

"We are pleased to join forces with the Houston Astros and The Astros Foundation," said Timothy J. Brosnan, Executive VP of Business, Major League Baseball. "Astros RBI will give kids a chance to play ball, while developing their character and teaching them sportsmanship."

"The UYA and Astros Foundation staff are excited to expand our programming at the UYA. We look forward to working with Houston-area teens and to our new partnership with MLB's RBI program," said Astros UYA Director Daryl Wade.

Baseball tryouts are being scheduled for May 3rd, 10th and 17th, and softball tryouts will be May 10th and 17th of this year. More information will be available soon on the web at www.astros.com/foundation.

"This new partnership with The Houston Astros and Astros Foundation is good for Major League Baseball, the city of Houston and most importantly , for the kids," added Thomas C. Brasuell, Vice President of Community Affairs for Major League Baseball.

The goals of the RBI programs are to increase participation and interest in baseball; develop the players self-esteem; motivate young athletes to study more effectively; provide participants with a strong incentive to stay in school; provide communities with the opportunity to become actively involved with their kids; develop talented athletes to participate with high school and college teams; and increase the number of ethnic minorities in the game of baseball.

Prior to 2014, The Houston RBI program was directed by an independent group that is no longer chartered by MLB. To continue the growth of the Houston Astros youth baseball initiatives in the Houston area and support the youngsters previously served by RBI in our community, The Astros Foundation agreed to fund the program beginning this spring and summer. The Astros RBI program will place a strong emphasis on the compliance of all MLB rules, procedures and requirements.

RBI participants are invited to sectional and regional tournaments in order to be part of the teams that compete in the annual RBI World Series in August. RBI programs reach more than 170,000 boys and girls and have been started in over 200 cities worldwide.