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The RBI Program – A Fresh Approach to Summer Baseball in Rhode Island

A few years back, I heard about a local North Kingstown High School senior baseball player who was collecting baseball equipment for his senior project.  His senior project centered around Major League Baseball’s RBI program, which stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner cities.  And after meeting with this student, I decided to interview him to help promote his project, help him collect more baseball equipment, and to learn more about the program’s mission.

According to the official website of Major League Baseball, the mission of the RBI program is:

  • Increase participation and interest in baseball and softball among underserved youth
  • Encourage academic participation and achievement
  • Increase number of talented athletes prepared to play in college and minor leagues
  • Promote greater inclusion of minorities into the mainstream of the game
  • Teach the value of teamwork

You can read more about their mission statement, scholarship and support services, and more, visit www.mlb.com/mlb-community/reviving-baseball-inner-cities.

This past summer, I had put an email into Major League Baseball to follow up on Rhode Island’s RBI program.  Steve Smiegocki from MLB got back to me and referred me to the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club.  After a few emails exchanged, I was able to schedule an interview with Corey Chan, who works in the development office at the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club at 1 Moeller Place, Pawtucket.  Upon arrival, I was able to observe the baseball fields and surrounding campus of the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club.

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The field and grounds were being worked on by the City of Pawtucket while I was there.  And, overall, the baseball field and softball field were in excellent shape.  There was plenty of seating along each fence.  There was a great mural painted on a concession stand that sat between the two fields.  I loved the message “The Positive Place for Kids.”

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I was really impressed with the baseball and softball fields, the playground area, and the overall vibe of this sports complex.  Corey took time out of her busy day to go over the program with me in further detail.  “So, the program is for ages 4 to 18 years of age.  Tee Ball Program, Machine Pitch, Kid Pitch, and up.  This RBI program is just one of many recreational programs offered at the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club.  You need to have a membership here at the Boys and Girls club to be eligible for the RBI program and other programs offered here.”   Corey went on to mention the essence of the RBI program, “we want to make sure that baseball stays alive in our communities that we serve.   We work with kids from Pawtucket, Central Falls, and parts of East Bay.  This is an affordable summer baseball program that is low key yet still very competitive.  Our focus is on personal and skill development, not so much on stats and winning.”

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One of the main points Corey emphasized was the equality of the program.  “Everyone gets the same uniform, the same equipment.  Kids from all our geographic and socioeconomic area play against other kids and literally have no idea which players come from hardship or not.  We don’t want a kid to see another player with new shoes, a new bat, new everything and think about his/her personal situation and have negativity.  Our goal is to be a positive place, a positive resource for kids to feel safe, learn the game of baseball, and grow in our community.”

I asked Corey how the program is funded and how they go about recruiting equipment for their summer baseball teams.  “The Pawtucket Red Sox and Jordan’s Furniture are huge contributors every year.  In fact, we have partnered with the PawSox for over 25 years now.  We do have private donors and grant funding.  The PawSox and Jordan’s Furniture has a summer baseball equipment drive every year, which we then use the following year for our players and the league.”  I asked about the Pawtucket Red Sox involvement going forward, due to their recent news that they would vacate McCoy Stadium and move to Worcester.  “They have been amazing to work with,” stated Corey “for like 25 to 30 years I believe they have contributed to our RBI program.  And, every year they send two of our RBI kids to the Major League’s World Series.  The kids get to go with a parent of course, but it really is a big deal for these kids.  Some of them have never been on a plane or even out of the state travelling.  The kids we sent to Chicago a few years back are still talking about that trip.  I’m not really sure what the future holds but I hope the relationship can continue regardless of where the PawSox play.”  And to that I asked, how can you become eligible for such an incredible trip through this RBI program.  Corey answered “If you are in the RBI program, the simple answer is just show up and play.”

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Corey invited all who are interested in the RBI program to contact the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club and speak to a program representative.  They can go over the program specifics like fees, which level of program to choose (Tee Ball, Machine Pitch, etc.), schedule of games and practices, and more.  It was a great visit to Pawtucket and I want to thank Corey Chan and the staff at the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club for the great tour and information of their RBI summer baseball program.

Website – Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club

Facebook – MLB’s RBI Program

Location – 1 Moeller Place, Pawtucket, RI 02860

Phone – 401-722-8840

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