07/09/09 11:14 AM ET
St. Louis set to host first Jr. RBI Classic
Teams from 16 cities will compete for title this weekend
By B.J. Rains / MLB.com
The friendly tournament, which will take place Friday through Sunday at six youth fields around the St. Louis area, is part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and the philanthropic "Going Beyond" theme for the 80th MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis.
Participants, who will play four games in the tournament, include one team in the 11-12 age division from each of the 16 pilot Jr. RBI Program cities, including Harlem RBI in Manhattan, N.Y., and The Boys and Girls Club of Venice RBI/Urban Youth Academy RBI in Compton, Calif. Teams are also represented from Sacramento, Calif., Atlanta, Jersey City, N.J., , Bradenton, Fla., Chicago, Cincinnati, Jackson, Miss., Nashville, Tenn., Seattle, St. Louis, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit and Philadelphia.
In addition to playing in the tournament, teams from the Jr. RBI Classic presented by KPMG will be offered several unique opportunities, including a chance for a meet-and-greet with musician Nelly after the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game. They will also get to attend the MLB All-Star FanFest, as well as a special viewing of the State Farm Home Run Derby in the famous OMNI-Max Theatre at the St. Louis Science Center. While at the Science Center, players will have the chance to hear from guest speaker Darryl McDaniels, famously known as "DMC" from the musical group Run-DMC. McDaniels will also serve as an honorary base coach for some of the games in the tournament.
The Jr. RBI Program presented by KPMG is a pilot program launched in 2009 to allow children ages 6-12 the chance to play baseball as part of a youth development initiative. A plan is under way for a nationwide rollout in 2010 for the Jr. RBI Program, which like the RBI Program is designed to not only help gain interest in participation in baseball and softball, but also to help inner-city kids understand the importance of going to school and the value of teamwork.
RBI Programs are located in more than 200 cities worldwide and provide as many as 100,000 boys and girls the chance to play baseball and softball each year.
B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.