As the Charleston RiverDogs have roared through the 2010 season, their paw print in the community has extended far beyond the confines of Riley Park, specifically through Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.
For the third year in a row the RiverDogs have partnered up with MLB and the local Boys and Girls Club of the Trident Area to establish the Charleston RBI program, putting together two Charleston Yankees teams, an age 13-15 squad and a 16-18 year-old team.
Charleston RBI is a youth outreach program designed to:
- Increase participation and interest in baseball and softball
- 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
The senior squad (ages 16-18) finished up their regular season on Saturday, July 10. Led by head coaches Herm Winningham and Lerone Johnson, who doubles as head administrator of the Charleston program, the team finished the 2010 regular season campaign on high note. Coach Winningham helped the players improve all aspects of their games, having previously been an assistant coach with the RiverDogs and played nine years in the major leagues, even winning a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in 1990.
The veteran club participated in the 2010 KPMG RBI Southeast Regional Tournament in Jupiter, Fla. from July 29- Aug. 1 along with three other teams from the region. The senior team did not advance past the Regional round however, finishing with a 0-3 record, as the Atlanta team withdrew from the tournament. The Southeast Regional was won by the senior team based out of Tampa.
The tournament, hosted by the Florida Marlins RBI program, was played at Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals. The winner of the Southeast regional earned a spot in the RBI World Series, which is currently being played at Roger Dean Stadium as well through Aug. 14.
The junior Charleston Yankees, led by head coach Timothy Easchues and assistant coach Charles Kinard, played a high level of baseball throughout their season. The junior league has seen their talent pool significantly increase in recent years as the RBI program has spread its message on a much broader scale throughout the Charleston area.
The junior squad finished the Regional tournament with a 0-4 record. In their losing efforts the Charleston team showed tremendous heart and determination, dropping three of four contests by a combined five runs. The Florida Marlins RBI team advanced from the Junior bracket.
Though their seasons came to a close in Jupiter, both the Junior and Senior teams had an experience they are likely to remember for a long time. The host Marlins RBI program held a bowling night for all the participating teams Thursday night prior to the tournament’s first games.
After Saturday’s games, the players from both teams remained at Roger Dean Stadium to take in a Palm Beach Cardinals’ game. Following the Palm Beach 3-1 victory over Clearwater, the Charleston teams had a chance to meet with Palm Beach Cardinals manager and Major League Baseball veteran Luis Aguayo.
Aguayo, a native of Puerto Rico, played in the major leagues from 1980-1989, including stints with the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians. The former big league infielder offered tips and advice on success and achieving goals both on and off the baseball diamond.
Six players from the junior Charleston Yankees club have been selected to participate in the 2010 Perfect Game Showcase in Atlanta, Ga. from Aug. 21-22. Perfect Game USA’s mission is to further the development and career of the talented high school baseball player.
These six players will participate in a baseball combine at the world-class East Cobb Complex in Marietta, Ga. intended to showcase their talents for the scouts and college coaches in attendance.
Perfect Game USA has a track record of sending top prospects into the collegiate and professional ranks. Perfect Game alumni include former RiverDogs and Major League players Carl Crawford, Elijah Dukes, Austin Jackson and BJ Upton.
The RBI program recently took center stage when it helped kick off the All-Star Game celebration in Los Angeles this past week. With the success of the program amongst older teenagers, MLB has recently shifted gears to bring more attention to the Jr. RBI Program, focusing on children ages 5-12.
The second annual Jr. RBI Classic, held from Friday, July 9 to Monday, July 12, featured eight baseball teams and four softball teams made up of 11 and 12-year-olds from all around the country. The celebration culminated with the RBI program presented a check to the Boy and Girls Club of America prior to the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 13.