Memphis teens get to play in MLB sponsored tournament

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A team of Memphis teenagers took a trip to New Orleans to play in a Major League Baseball sponsored tournament.

The team is made up of inner city children between 13 and 14 years old. They're part of MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program (R.B.I.)

R.B.I started in 1989 in Los Angeles, California. Since then, the program has expanded, now encompassing more than 200 cities and allowing more than 200,000 children a chance to play baseball every year.

MLB said the program is designed to increase participation and interest in baseball and softball among under-served youth, 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, and teach the value of teamwork.

Several current major league players got their start in baseball through the R.B.I. program--including Carl Crawford, Coco Crisp, CC Sabathia, Yovani Gallardo, and Justin Upton.

Now, Memphis children like Syncere Pruitt are getting the same opportunity.

"I just love baseball so much," Pruitt said. "It's my favorite sport. I just have a passion for it."

Pruitt's head coach raves about the opportunity R.B.I. offers children in Memphis.

"It provides an opportunity for kids to play baseball that otherwise would not have that opportunity," coach Isaiah Bell said.

Bell said the program gives children an opportunity to learn baseball and to see the world.

Team members packed their bags Thursday and headed for the Big Easy. It's the first time many of them have visited New Orleans.

"We want to expose them at an early age," Bell said. "What the future can hold if they put in the work, if they are determined and they show good work ethic."

That's a dream nobody can strike out.

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