Results tagged ‘ Youth Baseball ’
“I WON THE RBI SCHOLARSHIP!!!”
That was the text message I received last Friday to kick off the weekend.
Immediately I was overcome with excitement as if it were I who had been awarded the scholarship, telling anyone who would listen how another one of our RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) players had been awarded Major League Baseball’s “RBI for RBI” Scholarship. Megan Diaz, a senior at Miami Senior High School and a third year RBI participant, became the sixth player in the past five years to be awarded this prestigious $20,000 national scholarship presented to notable members nationwide of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program.
In her senior year, Megan served as captain for her high school softball team while excelling in the classroom, maintaining a 5.24 GPA and completing multiple advanced placement classes. Following the RBI season, Megan will be taking her talents up to Gainesville, FL, to attend the University of Florida, where she will study to become a pediatrician. Megan also has aspirations of walking on to the Gators’ softball team.
Personally, receiving the news about Megan was a thrill for me because I had the privilege of serving as her RBI coach for the Miami High School team (my alma mater) during the regular season, and then again on the All-Star team. Last summer Megan made the All-Star team and despite not having played in any of the first three games, she kept a positive attitude, supporting her teammates and staying prepared to contribute when the opportunity presented itself.
In the final game of the tournament, Megan entered as a late game defensive replacement in a tie game in right field. As the softball gods should have it, in the bottom of the 7th inning with two outs and a runner on second, the opposing team smoked a base hit to right field and with the winning run rounding third base, Megan fielded and came up firing. Players came spilling out of the dugout, but not because the game had ended, but because the runner was called out on Megan’s game-saving rocket throw! The game would eventually end in a tie, but it was the program’s first non-loss since 2009, and I could not have been more proud.
Megan shared with me that this was her most memorable moment playing RBI and when asked about it said, “I felt awesome as I ran into the dugout and saw my coach with a smile from ear to ear. I will never forget that moment!”
I hope she also knows that it was one of my most memorable moments not just as a coach, but also since becoming a member of the Miami Marlins.
For more information on the “RBI for RBI” Scholarship visit http://www.mlb.com/rbi
On Cuatro de Mayo, kids from City of Miami Parks and Recreation and Miami PAL were bussed out to Marlins Park for the 2nd Jr RBI Pitch, Hit & Run Competition. This baseball skills challenge measured who could drive the ball the furthest off a tee, throw the most strikes with 6 pitches, and blaze around the bases the quickest. This was a welcomed experience for the kids who had their games rained out from the nasty weather earlier in the week… but on this day, with the ballpark as the backdrop, it was picturesque. At the end of the day 12 kids from 4 different age groups advanced to the sectional round and we hope to see those Jr RBI shirts back at Marlins Park for the on field Regional Championships. The Jr RBI program is supported by Marlins Ayudan volunteers and sponsored by Marlins players Adeiny Hechavarria, Donovan Solano, and Nathan Eovaldi.
The morning started off rainy and dreary, but volunteers would not be deterred from helping restore a park and baseball field that has been bringing families together for as long as baseball has been a part of this community. Eventually the sun shined through the clouds and allowed us to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving others his birthday. I felt a great deal of pride being a part of the event at West Perrine Park with my colleagues at the Marlins and our partners at Miami Dade County Parks & Recreation.
We hope that this renovated ball field will encourage both the youth and role models of this community to once again come out and not only play, but flourish in a sport that at one point was all the buzz at this park. Just ask any of the old school Hellcat players who love sharing stories of when the stands would fill up on Sundays with families coming out to watch baseball after church as part of their family traditions. Now it’s time for new traditions to be formed. In 2013 we, as your home team, want to help bring baseball back to the inner city and return the sounds of baseball echoing throughout West Perrine Park.
Marlins Park may currently be set up for soccer and missing the infield, but that doesn’t mean we are shut down for business. RBI participants came out early Saturday morning to take part in an instructional baseball clinic highlighted by guest instructors Cliff Floyd (Marlins: 1997-2002) and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. The two former Marlins worked the kids out in both the home and visiting batting cages, working on front toss and various hitting drills emphasizing balance and bat speed. The clinic was not limited to the cages, had Marlins bullpen catcher Jeff Urguelles and RBI alumnus/ front office employee Danny Vargas worked with pitchers who had the opportunity to throw off the bullpen mounds. Finally, no clinic would be complete without an on-field defensive component, which the players received from another RBI graduate, George Barber.
This was not a day reserved for merely baseball; following the countless swings and throws, the participants made their way to the dugout club for a special presentation by Jose Correa and the “Play in College” program. It was great seeing the players engaged as they learned about all the opportunities and dollars available for them to continue their pursuit of higher education and playing the sport they love.
For many of these kids it was their first time ever stepping foot on a major league field and I was told by a parent that “surely this will be a day that they will not soon forget…” to which I replied, “They won’t forget it, and don’t call me Shirley.”
Officer Joe Solis, RBI All Star starting pitcher, reflects on the 15 year anniversary of the Marlins RBI World Series Championship. Yet another example of how RBI develops not only big league ballplayers, but major league citizens as well. Take a look at the magical year that was 1997 and how Gary Sheffield made sure that Joe and his teammates were recognized as true RBI World Series Champions.