MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Championship baseball is being played this weekend at Target Field.
It’s not the Twins (they’re in Boston), but kids who someday hope to play in the majors.
Bradenton, Fla. took on the Jackie Robinson team from New Jersey in the RBI World Series senior division championship.
RBI stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities; it’s a program Major League Baseball started 23 years ago to encourage kids to play the sport.
There are more than 340 RBI leagues worldwide. That includes about 6,000 local kids, because RBI funds the Minneapolis and St. Paul city baseball programs.
WCCO-TV caught up with the Bradenton team during their championship run. It is their first time to the RBI World Series, but some players are already looking beyond this weekend’s games.
“I got the RBI scholarship,” said Sixto Guerrero. “Only 12 people in the country get it. That was huge for me. I signed with the school for baseball and the school’s pretty expensive — $22,000 a year.”
For many players, this program gives kids an opportunity to go to college. Not only do they travel — to be seen by college scouts — they also have to keep up their grades.
The program focuses on life skills used both on and off the field, like teamwork. But despite the high expectations, the players still say this program is better than any club league.
“RBI has meant a lot to my life,” said Connor Davis. “Playing with my friends, playing for people fundraising, stuff like that…Bradenton is not the best part of town, so we come together, all areas, and we play.”
It was a close game, but the New Jersey team defeated Bradenton 8 to 7 for the title.