RBI youth clinic, showcase takes place in San Francisco

Program alum, local hero Rollins on hand for World Series event

RBI youth clinic, showcase takes place in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- As early morning showers subsided on Saturday and the sun slowly emerged in the Bay Area, hundreds of local kids from Major League Baseball's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program descended upon the Big Rec Ball Fields in Golden Gate Park for a clinic and a showcase.

On Saturday evening at AT&T Park, the Giants and Royals clash in Game 4 of the World Series. The morning, however, was dedicated to aspiring big leaguers. Around 200 kids from San Francisco RBI and San Francisco Jr. Giants RBI participated in a clinic run by the Boys & Girls Clubs' "Wanna Play" program. On an adjacent field, 23 of the top RBI players in the area flashed their skills in front of several professional scouts.

There were celebrity guests in tow, including former Giants players Vida Blue and Mike "Tiny" Felder, Giants president Larry Baer, MLB Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson's daughter.

Rollins, who grew up in nearby Alameda, Calif., and was the co-recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award at AT&T Park on Friday, is a proud product of the RBI program. One day after being recognized for his community service, he spent his morning with the young ballplayers from his hometown.

  Date     Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 21     SF 7, KC 1 video
Gm 2 Oct. 22     KC 7, SF 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 24     KC 3, SF 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 25     SF 11, KC 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 26     SF 5, KC 0 video
Gm 6 Oct. 28     KC 10, SF 0 video
Gm 7 Oct. 29     SF 3, KC 2 video

"It was an opportunity that I don't [usually] get to have, and that's coming out and seeing what the Bay Area had to offer -- the talent, and just seeing the kids," Rollins said. "I was once one of these kids at a showcase."

For the sixth consecutive year, MLB is dedicating the first four games of the World Series to raising the awareness of important causes associated with charitable initiatives and MLB partners. In Kansas City, Game 1 was dedicated to veterans and military families, with a focus on Welcome Back Veterans, and Game 2 put the spotlight on education and ALS awareness. In San Francisco, Game 3 was dedicated to advancing the fight against cancer and specifically Stand Up To Cancer, and Game 4 is about youth outreach all day and night.

For the kids, the icing on the cake was the arrival of Mo'ne Davis, the star pitcher of the Taney Little League team from Philadelphia, as well as the entire Jackie Robinson West squad from Chicago, which won the national Little League World Series title in Williamsport, Pa., this past August.

Blue's reaction when Davis showed up said it all.

"I see her! I see her!" Blue beamed.

Davis, meanwhile, was simply happy to hang out and take in the scene.

"I like to watch all the clinics, if they're older or younger," Davis said. "The older kids, I can get something from them. The younger kids, it's fun to watch, because you can see all their smiles and how much fun it is."

"It gives kids inspiration," said MLB vice president of community affairs Thomas Brasuell. "It's always a big goal for kids to get to the RBI World Series as well as the Little League World Series, which has been the biggest stage in youth baseball tournaments."

For the players participating in the showcase, their dreams are even bigger.

"We reached out to the local leagues here in the Bay Area, in San Francisco, to ask our RBI leagues, 'Which kids do you think really have some potential to go on and play high school and college and maybe one day in the pros?'" Brasuell said. "Having the local RBI leagues select those kids, they're kind of the cream of the crop."

The scouts on hand evaluated the players' abilities, rating them, as Astros scout Rodney Davis emphasized, "against Major League standards." Afterward, the scouts offered constructive criticism for the players to keep in mind.

As the clinic wrapped up and the showcase participants took a water break, Manfred and Baer addressed the kids sitting cross-legged on the grass and the parents and volunteers standing behind them. Then they opened the floor for questions.

One young boy spoke up first.

"Where's Jimmy Rollins?" he asked, drawing laughs as Rollins stepped forward and said hello.

Another small voice chimed in next: "What does it feel like to help children play?"

Manfred smiled and said it's his favorite part of the job.

Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.