The RBI World Series took over Target Field tonight as the 16 teams competing throughout this week’s tournament took to the field for a pre-game ceremony. For the two Chicago White Sox teams, it was an especially exciting experience because they were able to spend a few moments chatting with members of the Chicago White Sox — the team they have been representing throughout the RBI experience.
It was an absolutely beautiful morning at Target Field as the 16 RBI World Series teams arrived to take part in the tournament’s opening luncheon. Sitting in the Legends Club overlooking the first base line, the teams and their coaches watched as the ground crews started getting the field ready for tonight’s game, a field these young men will be walking across in just a few short hours. The teams will be honored during a pre-game ceremony before joining the Twins for their matchup against the division rival Chicago White Sox.
For most of these players, it was their first time stepping foot in the home of the Minnesota Twins and it wasn’t hard to see their excitement. Players scampered to get their photos taken in front of the statues that surround Target Field, the young men from Bradenton climbing up next to Kent Hrbek’s likeness — a player who had retired from the majors before many of them were even born.
While Target Field quickly captured the teams’ attention, it didn’t take long for the already-high excitement levels to escalate. Upon entering the luncheon, the players and coaches were greeted by baseball legends Tony Oliva and Rod Carew who took photos and passed along advice to the teams as they found their way to their seats. For the teams from the Dominican Republic & Venezuela, it was an especially inspirational moment as Oliva and Carew were able to use their native language to communicate with the young players.
Minnesota Twins broadcaster Dick Bremer got the star-studded afternoon started by introducing the special guests who were in attendance at the luncheon. Joining Oliva and Carew were Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven and Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter, MLB Executive Vice President of Business Tim Brosnan and Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. Selig delivered a gracious keynote address to the young men, encouraging each and everyone of them to take advantage of the opportunities that will be presented to them over the next few days. A selected group of players were also invited to take part in a Question & Answer session with the commissioner and the four players, submitting questions that included the debate on replay in baseball as well as the impact of African American players in the league.
Carew was specifically asked to give advice on how to improve as a hitter at the plate. The seven-time batting champ took that moment as an opportunity to pass along his own words of wisdom to the players sitting in front of him.
“If you have the passion to play this game, if you’ve ever dreamt about getting to the big leagues, work at it.”
It was the message that was promoted throughout the day, an idea woven deep into the groundwork that started RBI 20 years ago. As the week progresses and the games get underway, it will no doubt be at the front of every players’ mind now that they’ve been given a glimpse in the life of a Major League Baseball player.
The teams ended the afternoon by joining the commissioner for a team photo in the Twins’ media room.
Tomorrow the players will take part in the opening ceremonies, followed by their work out day where they will have the chance to play in front of numerous baseball scouts. Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, and MLB chief marketing officer Jacqueline Parkes, along with Brosnan and St. Peter, will also join in the festivities. They’ll also take part in the tournament’s first-ever service projects, working with the Boys & Girls Club and ‘Kids Against Hunger’.
Stay tuned for more photos and videos from the tournament! Can’t wait for the games to get underway on Thursday!
It’s going to be a busy two weeks here in Minneapolis/St. Paul as 24 teams from around the U.S., Dominican Republic and Venezuela prepare to compete in the 2012 RBI World Series. The 16 baseball teams, representing the Junior & Senior Leagues, are set to arrive today with events kicking off tomorrow, while the eight teams in the Softball League will kick off events on August 6th.
Besides vying for their division’s championship, these teams will also help celebrate the program’s 20th anniversary — a commemoration that will be highlighted by a visit from Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. His keynote address and luncheon will open the baseball portion of the tournament and will feature Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew and Paul Molitor, as well as Twins legend Tony Oliva. Following the luncheon at Target Field, the baseball teams will be able to participate in a Q & A session with the Commissioner and former players.
Players and coaches will also take part in something extra special this year; for the first time in RBI World Series history, teams will join Major League Baseball for a day dedicated to assisting in community service projects. Teams will help local Minneapolis Boys & Girls Clubs by landscaping, cleaning and renovating ball fields, as well as working with ‘Kids Against Hunger’ where they will help pack food that will be distributed to families throughout the United States and abroad.
Needless to say, with all of the events set up over the next two weeks, players and coaches will be incredibly busy as they take part in once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Stay tuned for blogs, videos and photos from all of the events for a unique, behind-the-scenes look at this year’s RBI World Series.
A little bit more about me:
Born and raised in a small community an hour south of Minneapolis, I grew up loving Minnesota sports teams — especially the Twins! After working as a sports journalist in the Twin Cities for over two years, I moved out to New York City to take part in the 2012 MLB Fan Cave where I spent the first half of this year’s season watching every single baseball game. Now I’m back in Minnesota, excited to take part in this year’s RBI World Series tournament. Be sure to follow along here on my official PRO MLB.com blog or on Twitter (@LindsayGuentzel) for lots of updates as the tournament gets underway!