Commissioner Bud Selig welcomes RBI World Series teams!

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!

-Lindsay

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