Major League Baseball today announced the twenty-four teams advancing to the 2014 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series, which will be hosted by the Texas Rangers for the first time in the championship tournament's 22-year history. The 2014 RBI World Series features young men and women on youth baseball and softball RBI teams representing twenty cities from around the United States, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Tournament seeding and playoff games of the RBI World Series will be played on fields throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area, with the baseball championship games being played at Globe Life Park in Arlington, the home of the Rangers. The softball championship game will be played at Texas Woman's University in Denton. The RBI World Series is the international championship tournament of the RBI program, the Major League Baseball youth initiative designed to provide young people from underserved and diverse communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball.
The following is a complete list of cities (and leagues) represented in this year's RBI World Series:
Junior Baseball Teams (Ages 13-15) Senior Baseball Teams (Ages 16-18)
Austin, TX (Austin RBI) Anaheim (Angels RBI)
Detroit (Detroit Arsenal Youth Sports & Fitness RBI) Caracas, VZ (Venezuela RBI)
Jersey City (Jackie Robinson Jersey City RBI) Cleveland (Cleveland Baseball Federation RBI)
Los Angeles (Dodgers RBI) Houston (Houston Astros RBI)
Miami (Miami Marlins RBI) Jersey City (Jackie Robinson Jersey City RBI)
Prince George's County, MD (Prince George's County Boys & Girls Kansas City, Kansas (KCK RBI)
Santiago, DR (RBI Santiago and Villa Altagracia) Miami (Miami Marlins RBI)
St. Louis (Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club RBI) Philadelphia (Philadelphia Phillies RBI)
Softball Teams (Ages 19 and under)
Atlanta (RBI Atlanta)
Cleveland (Cleveland Baseball Federation RBI)
Harrisburg (Harrisburg RBI)
Hilo, Hawaii (Nobu Yamauchi RBI League)
Hoboken, New Jersey (Hoboken RBI)
Houston (Houston Astros RBI)
Minneapolis/St. Paul (Minnesota Twins RBI)
Santo Domingo, DR (RBI Santo Domingo and San Pedro De Macoris)
In order to earn a spot in this year's RBI World Series, teams from 39 states, two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and two Latin American countries (the Dominican Republic and Venezuela) competed in RBI Regional Tournaments. Austin, Texas, Kansas City, Kansas, and Prince George's County, Maryland, represented by Austin RBI, KCK RBI and Prince George's Boys & Girls Club RBI, respectively, are sending teams 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 Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta and Los Angeles will be making their record 20th appearances in the Series. Atlanta will seek to defend their softball title and tie Los Angeles for most combined titles (baseball and softball) with 14. Historically, eleven countries and U.S. territories around the world have competed in the RBI World Series, including the United States, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Thomas, United Kingdom and Venezuela.
The baseball portion of the RBI World Series launches on Wednesday, August 6th with an Opening Luncheon featuring Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. On Thursday, August 7th, 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, and also a community service event at the North Texas Food Bank. The softball Workout Day will take place on Wednesday, August 13th.
"Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities is one of our game's most important youth programs, offering young men and women opportunities to succeed on the field," Commissioner Selig said. "Most importantly, RBI provides its participants with experiences and lessons that go beyond baseball and allow them to grow as individuals. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate all of the players and coaches and wish them the best of luck in the 2014 RBI World Series."
The Baseball schedule of games begins on Friday, August 8th on fields in Grapevine (Grapevine High School; Oak Grove Ballfield Complex) and Colleyville (Colleyville High School). Both baseball championship games will be played at Globe Life Park in Arlington, with the Senior Division Championship airing on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, August 16th at 4:30 p.m. ET. The softball schedule of games begins on August 13th on fields at Bob Jones Park in Southlake. The softball championship game will be played at Texas Woman's University on Sunday, August 17th, and will air on MLB Network and MLB.com on Tuesday, August 19th at 10:30 a.m. ET.
"The Texas Rangers, in conjunction with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, are proud to be hosting the 2014 RBI World Series," said Texas Rangers Co-Chairman Ray Davis. "We are thankful to the cities of Grapevine and Southlake, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, and Texas Woman's University for the use of their world class facilities during the event. Locally, the Rangers and the Rangers Foundation are pleased to annually support more than 2,000 kids playing RBI Baseball and Jr. RBI Baseball, and are honored to have the best of the best here in Texas through the RBI World Series."
Additional experiences for the hundreds of RBI players will include attending a Rangers game at Globe Life Park 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. Twelve "RBI for RBI" scholarship recipients ($20,000 per student-athlete) will be recognized at the August 10th and August 12th 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 26-year history, and many others were given the opportunity for higher education through baseball and softball scholarships. There have been nearly 40 RBI players selected in the 2012-2014 MLB Drafts, 27 of whom have played in the RBI World Series (between 2009 and 2013).
Since the inception of the RBI program in 1989, MLB Clubs have drafted more than 200 RBI participants, and more than 70 players since 2008. Alumni on MLB rosters during the 2014 regular season include 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), Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals), CC Sabathia (New York Yankees), Hector Santiago (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Tyler Skaggs (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Justin Upton (Atlanta Braves) and Chris Young (New York Mets). 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.
Yovani Gallardo said: "Playing in RBI meant a lot to me. For us as kids and the type of communities in which we lived, it was definitely a great experience to be able to play the game of baseball two days out of the week. For myself, I had the opportunity to travel for the first time to Anaheim and play in Angel Stadium. It was something that I will always remember. I had a great time playing in RBI and the RBI World Series."
Josh Felix, RBI World Series alumnus, RBI for RBI Scholarship recipient and pitcher for the Montclair State University Baseball Team, said: "I cannot thank the RBI program enough for the unforgettable experience of playing great baseball across the country, the privilege of stepping onto a Major League field, and, most importantly, being awarded the RBI for RBI scholarship. Thank you RBI."
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 $30 million worth of resources to the RBI program, and all 30 Clubs support RBI leagues. For more information about the RBI World Series, please visit MLB.com/RBIWorldSeries.