Twins to host 2011, '12 RBI World Series
Target Field named home for next two championship games
MINNEAPOLIS -- The championship game for Major League Baseball's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program is moving to Target Field for 2011 and '12.
MLB announced in a release on Monday, issued during a news conference in Minnesota, that the Twins' ballpark would host the baseball finale of the 19th and 20th RBI World Series, after the previous two were played at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.
Preceding games of the RBI World Series, taking place Aug. 2-14, will be held at various other locations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
"It is a tremendous honor for the Minnesota Twins organization and for Target Field to host the 2011 and 2012 RBI World Series in the Twin Cities," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "We have been actively pursuing this opportunity for more than two years, and are very eager to show the nation what the Twin Cities offers in terms of a national youth championship."
Twins center fielder Denard Span, the club's RBI ambassador, was on hand to share his thoughts about the merits of the program, and his excitement about the championship coming to Target Field. Though he did not participate in the program growing up, Span saw the benefits of RBI baseball through friends and teammates who played in the program.
Span is the latest in a long line of Twins players who have supported the program, including Hall of Famers Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield, and Torii Hunter. The Minnesota Twins ballclub has supported RBI baseball since 1993.
"Torii, I remember coming up in the Minor Leagues, everything that he told me," Span said. "Back then, I didn't realize and understand some of the things that he said, but I kept my eyes open and I watched him, and I just listened to the things that he told me.
"Now that I am where I am, and I'm older, I realized why he did certain things with me and brought me along with him with certain things. It's just an honor just to be here and carry on the legacy of Kirby Puckett and [Hunter] and now me."
The RBI World Series is the crowning event for a program that aims to provide free year-round baseball and softball opportunities to kids growing up in rough environments. Founded in 1989, the RBI program now features 300 leagues and about 200,000 kids ages 5-18 participating.
In the 2010 RBI World Series, Houston claimed the Senior Division (16-18-year-olds), the Dominican Republic won in the Junior Division (13-15) and Los Angeles took the softball crown (19 and under).
"RBI is a program that provides underserved children with a chance to learn and play baseball and softball, but more importantly, gives them a chance to make new friends, and learn life lessons," said Tom Brasuell, vice president of community affairs for Major League Baseball. "Since RBI's inception in 1989, more than one million kids have gone through the program and gone on to be productive citizens throughout their lives."
This year, baseball tournament games will be held at Parade Stadium and Neiman Sports Complex in Minneapolis, and Toni Stone Stadium in St. Paul. Softball tournament games will be played at Neiman Sports Complex and Dunning Softball Fields in St. Paul.
Softball's championship game is slated to be played at the University of Minnesota's Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.
Twenty-four teams will compete in the RBI World Series, composed of winners from eight divisions in the RBI Regionals.
Mike Hahn, director of parks and recreation for St. Paul, and Cordell Wiseman, assistant superintendent of recreation in Minneapolis, were both on hand to thank the Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball. Hahn and Wiseman expressed gratitude not only for the RBI World Series coming to the Twin Cities, but for just having the RBI program itself.
As a Florida native, Span acknowledged that many of his friends growing up saw other sports, especially basketball and football, to be more appealing than baseball. Now, when he goes home, his friends all tell them they wish they had chosen baseball.
"We've just got to try to get kids to realize that at a younger age before they do get older," Span said. "Even though there aren't a lot of African-Americans in the game, there still are [some], and it seems like the African-Americans that are in the game, that they are successful.
"I think it's just good to make ourselves visible by going to the community, going and speaking to kids, so that they can see that this dream is obtainable."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.