Monday, July 09, 2007

Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI)

History of RBI

Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) is entering its 19th season in 2007. Since its inception in 1989, RBI has grown from a local program for boys in South Central Los Angeles to an international campaign encompassing more than 200 cities and as many as 120,000 male and female participants a year.

John Young, a former Major League Baseball player and scout, developed the concept of RBI to provide disadvantaged youth an opportunity to learn and enjoy the game of baseball. Young grew up in South Central LA at a time when the area developed many professional baseball players. However, by the late 1970s, Young -- who was working as a Major League scout -- noted a significant decrease in the number of skilled athletes emerging from his childhood area.

After visiting inner-city schools and talking to members of the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, Young discovered that the majority of kids quit playing baseball between the ages of 13 and 16. The drop off was due to many factors, including a lack of organization, funding and community support for youth baseball, as well as an overall deterioration of the social climate in many underserved areas. More often than not, kids quit after becoming discouraged by poorly organized baseball programs and enticed by the existence of other activities, including street gangs.

Young decided that the best way to revive baseball in South Central LA would be to introduce a comprehensive youth baseball program for 13- to 16-year-olds. This program would not only encourage participation in baseball and expand the pool of talented prospects, but, more importantly, it would provide young people with a positive, team-oriented activity that would keep them off the streets while challenging them mentally and physically.

Major League Baseball endorsed the RBI concept and provided financial support for the program, as did the Los Angeles Dodgers and the City of Los Angeles. While the youth of Los Angeles were initially a little skeptical -- only 11 showed up for the first tryout -- they gradually began to embrace RBI, and 180 kids participated the first season.

Read the rest of the article here

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