The mission of the Pittsburgh Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program is to increase participation and interest in baseball and softball among underserved youth through instructional and competitive play, while encouraging youth to achieve academically, demonstrate good sportsmanship and contribute positively to the community.
The Pittsburgh RBI program began in 1994 as a part of Major League Baseball's international RBI initiative. During the 2013 season, Pittsburgh RBI included more than 1,000 area youth in 5 different communities throughout the greater Pittsburgh area. The RBI program focuses on instruction and competitive play. Throughout the summer, Pittsburgh RBI teams competed in the City of Pittsburgh Department of Parks and Recreation BIG League. The Swissvale 12-U Girls Slo-pitch Softball captured the league championship in 2013 within the CitiParks BIG League program.
In addition to regular season play, two Pittsburgh RBI All-Star teams, a Junior Boys team (13-15 years old) and Senior Boys team (16-18 years old), traveled to Harrisburg, PA to compete in an MLB-sponsored Mid-Atlantic regional tournament. Although the Pittsburgh RBI All-Star teams did not qualify for the annual MLB RBI World Series in Minneapolis, MN, both teams displayed great sportsmanship and provided great competition for the opponents.
The Pirates Community Baseball Center, which officially opened in February 2007, hosts over 2,000 youth each year. This facility, which is part of the Shadyside Boys & Girls Club, is designed to assist Pittsburgh RBI youth in developing baseball and softball fundamentals and techniques.
In 2013, the Pirates' ball-girls conducted an instructional softball clinic at Woodland Hills High School for all ages. More than 20 girl's softball players learned various techniques and skills to improve their play for the upcoming season.
The Pittsburgh RBI Program emphasizes the importance of education by providing various education programs throughout the season. Ten Pittsburgh RBI youth attended the "Skills that Pay the Bills" program offered by KPMG of Pittsburgh which is a financial literacy program. Youth also had the opportunity to participate in programs including the Jackie Robinson Art, Essay, and Poetry Contest and Healthy Choices, Healthy Children which is a character development program sponsored by the Cal Ripkin, Sr. Foundation.
In 2013, Pittsburgh RBI was a recipient of a Baseball Tomorrow Fund equipment grant of $5,000. In late August, the Pirates will complete an on-field ceremony at PNC Park including representatives from the Boys & Girls Club and youth within the program. In addition, members of Pittsburgh RBI will hold an equipment drive that allows Pirates fans to donate new or gently used baseball equipment.
Also, Pittsburgh RBI was selected by Major League Baseball to receive a $25,000 grant from Scott's Lawn Care. The grant is designed to assist the Pittsburgh RBI program with community field renovations, field maintenance, and additional equipment and uniform purchases for the program.
Over 2,000 Pittsburgh Pirates game tickets games were provided free-of-charge to players, coaches, and volunteers of Pittsburgh RBI, many whom have never had the opportunity to attend a professional baseball game.