St. Louis Cardinals: Memphis Redbirds to Host MLB’s RBI Institute

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals are loyal advocates for the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program of Major League Baseball. The AAA-Affiliate, Memphis Redbirds, will host the RBI Institute this month.

Major League Baseball has an outstanding program that brings baseball to inner city America called RBI. The St. Louis Cardinals– along with other teams in the majors- participate by hosting events, providing supplies, etc. The Memphis Redbirds will host the biennial RBI Institute on February 16-19.

RBI is MLB’s youth program created to provide baseball and softball opportunities to underrepresented youth in inner city communities. In addition, the program focuses on achieving academic success and teamwork skills for the participants. The RBI program was started in 1989 and has served approximately two million since its inception.

The current reach of RBI surrounds a magic 200 number: RBI is present in some 200 cities worldwide, through some 200-or-so programs, and with approximately 200,000 youth participants. To show support, thirty clubs represented in MLB, as well as MLB itself, have provided greater than $40 million in resources.

The St. Louis Cardinals will be very much involved this year. As was shared earlier, the Memphis Redbirds will serve as host to this year’s biennial RBI Institute at Memphis’ AutoZone Park. This isn’t Memphis’ first involvement with RBI– the Redbirds have hosted a program since 1998 for boys and girls aged six through sixteen. In 1998, the Redbirds program hosted six sites and now hosts twelve sites.

The institute is a training conference for coaches and league administrators for the RBI program from the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Curacao, and the Dominican Republic. These participants will travel to Memphis for the dates shared above.

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Participants at the RBI Institute learn, “league operations, players’ health on and off the field (i.e., Pitch Smart, anti-bullying and drug-free lifestyles), educational programs, best practices, coaches training, league finances, equipment procurement and more” (Redbirds Press Release, 8 Feb. 2017).

I personally know people affiliated with this program. I can sing their praises and they- in turn- can sing the praises of lives affected by this program. I have often joked that everything I learned about life could be boiled down to lessons learned on the diamond. This program shows this joke to be truth rather than a laughing matter.

To exemplify this point, therefore, let me share a little of the items from the Redbirds press release regarding last year’s RBI program held in Memphis:

In July, the Redbirds RBI program was one of 12 cities and national youth leagues to participate in the All-Star Youth Classic in San Diego, California, alongside the 87th MLB All-Star Game. Eleven kids and three coaches from the Memphis program played seven games against other youth programs from California, New York, Texas, Indiana, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Mexico in a round-robin tournament format.

In addition to the games, the participants toured the University of San Diego, participated in a community beach cleanup effort, enjoyed Major League Baseball’s popular All-Star FanFest, attended the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and the Legends & Celebrity Softball game, as well as the T-Mobile Home Run Derby  (Memphis Redbirds Press Release, 8 Feb. 2017).

Need I remind you that these were youth participants who might never have these opportunities to play baseball, much less travel to the All-Star events?

How do you get involved? For those who are in the Memphis area, this year’s RBI Institute is hosting a PLAY BALL event at AutoZone park on February 18 from 4:00-6:00pm. Registration is free but is only for youth aged six to thirteen (otherwise, I would play myself). Interested parties can learn more at this link. Even better, no gloves or equipment is required save that of sneakers.

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What an amazing event and program right? I’d be really interested to know how many people know about this program. I’m proud to help the Memphis Redbirds and the St. Louis Cardinals share this news– finally some good news, baseball.