Create Major League Citizens using the values that baseball and softball provide to our youth and families in the inner city of Indianapolis.
This is Indianapolis RBI
Since 1996, Indy RBI has been the proud exclusive Indianapolis affiliate of Major League Baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) initiative. Over 25,000 boys and girls ages 3-18 have played in Indy RBI, the area’s premier urban baseball and softball program.
But how and when did Indy RBI get started in Central Indiana? The story begins in 1981, when local attorney Milt Thompson and his friend Jim Young, developed a summer high school program focused on creating opportunities for inner-city youth to play baseball – the Indiana Amateur Baseball Association (IABA). Fifteen years later, Thompson hired Mike Lennox as executive director. From there, Lennox partnered with Major League Baseball’s new RBI program.
Participation soared in the late 1990s as the program grew to over 500 teams and over 5,000 baseball players throughout Central Indiana. While there was overall success, participation rates were lower in the inner city of Indianapolis. Many of the urban high school players targeted for support by the IABA stopped playing baseball, and girls’ softball participation was slipping. In the early 2000s, the IABA changed its name to Play Ball Indiana (PBI) and began to focus exclusively on the RBI program and urban baseball and softball in Indianapolis. Participation quickly rebounded to almost 2,000 participants each year.
In more recent years, PBI established and maintained a strong partnership with both Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and Indy Parks. PBI served as the manager of all IPS middle and elementary school baseball and softball leagues and helped coordinate high school baseball and softball participation. PBI was especially proud of its partnership with Indy Parks, with the organizations teaming together to renovate vacant parks like Forest Manor Park to help convert them into safe and inviting playing sites. Indy Parks has always been supportive with facility efforts.
2020 was challenging due to the pandemic, but it was memorable for many reasons, too. Over 1,300 boys and girls played ball safely and Play Ball Indiana was officially renamed to Indy RBI.
Indy RBI currently operates Jr. RBI youth baseball and softball house recreational leagues (ages 3-12), competitive Sunday Showcase leagues, middle and high school summer leagues, fall leagues, the Indy RBI Winter Academy, and is the local host for Pitch Hit & Run, the official skills competition of Major League Baseball, and the Jr. Home Run Derby. Most programming takes place at Forest Manor Park, Christian Park, Garfield Park, Rhodius Park and Brookside Park in Indianapolis, as well as Manual and Tech High Schools, and Arlington and Northwest Middle Schools.
Through an exclusive partnership with Major League Baseball, baseball and softball players ages 13-18 are eligible to be selected to play in RBI Regional Tournaments, where players compete for the opportunity to play on a Major League or college field and a spot in the RBI World Series in Vero Beach, Fla. In 2021, Indy RBI’s junior baseball team (ages 13-15) became Indy’s fifth World Series qualifier all time and first since 2007.
Indy RBI’s goal each year is to have 2,500 baseball and softball participants, and there is great momentum as we move into the 2022 season. To attain our goals, we must not forget our mission – to build good character, foster responsible behavior, encourage development of baseball and softball skills, encourage the enjoyment of healthy competition and teamwork, and build the values of honesty, fairness, integrity, inclusion and commitment to excellence.
We are Indy RBI. Let’s play ball!
The Future: Dreaming Big
We are proud of how far we’ve come over the past 35 years, but we’re just getting started – think big, dream bigger!
One of our main focuses going forward will be softball, with the hope of doubling participation in three years and the creation of a girls-only RBI Softball Winter Academy.
Exciting new partnerships, new athletic and academic programming, and an emphasis on providing unique and meaningful opportunities for our kids drives us daily. We want to be the go-to organization for inner-city urban baseball and softball in Indianapolis and envision becoming the best RBI program in the country.
We are proud to say “We Are RBI!”