GRAPEVINE, Texas -- The World Series is coming to The Ballpark in Arlington in both 2014 and '15.
The Rangers and Major League Baseball announced on Friday that the Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities World Series will be held at the Ballpark in Arlington and surrounding communities for the next two years.
The baseball championship games will be at the Ballpark, while other tournament games will be held in other locations throughout the Metroplex, including Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake from Aug. 6-17. The championship game of the softball tournament will be held at Northwood University in Cedar Hill.
The tournament has been held in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area the past three years, but RBI wanted to find a new location to help spread the organization's exposure.
"The Rangers' enthusiasm and proposal to host it really stood out among all the candidates," said RBI executive director David James.
The Rangers have been big supporters of the local RBI programs in Dallas and Fort Worth, and they hosted the Southwest Regional Tournaments in 2012-13. The whole RBI program was founded by former Rangers scout John Young in 1989, and it continues to receive support through the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.
"We are very pleased that the Texas Rangers, who have demonstrated enormous enthusiasm for the RBI World Series, will host our festivities for the next two years," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "The RBI World Series provides an enriching experience for young people from underserved communities. This extraordinary opportunity includes the chance to play in a big league ballpark, but more importantly, it has the potential to open the minds of our participants to life's possibilities beyond baseball. I thank the Rangers for sharing our commitment to the kids of the RBI Program."
In order to qualify for the RBI World Series, leagues from the United States, Canada and Latin America will compete in eight RBI Regional qualifying tournaments, which will begin in June 2014. Regional winners earn berths in the RBI World Series.
Ultimately, 24 teams will compete in the World Series in three divisions: Junior Baseball (13-15-year-olds); Senior Baseball (16-18-year-olds); and Softball (19 and under).
"Baseball is a life-building process," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It teaches you what failure is all about, being a great teammate and team accomplishments. More than anything, it allows you to play the game I love so much. This is a great opportunity for the youth to come into the Metroplex and maybe we can get a lot more kids playing baseball. It's been fading in the inner cities, and Major League Baseball has done a great job reviving it."
In addition to the games, other experiences for the players will include participating in a community service event, attending a Rangers home game, and participating in a "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life" essay contest administered by Sharon Robinson, daughter of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson and MLB educational programming consultant.
"As a father of two boys, I think it is awesome what RBI does in creating opportunities for kids to play the game," Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder said. "The more chances, the better baseball has to grow young players."
RBI alumni on current Major League rosters include Indians outfielder Michael Bourn, Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford, Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp, Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo, Rays first baseman James Loney, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon and Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia. More than 200 RBI players have been drafted by MLB clubs in the past 26 years. RBI currently serves more than 220,000 boys and girls in more than 300 programs and 200 cities worldwide. Major League Baseball and the clubs have designated $30 million worth of resources to the RBI program.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.