BUFFALO, N.Y. — Major League Baseball is shining on a spotlight on a local educational and sports program as part of its Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.
An official announcement is set for 11 a.m. at Johnny B. Wiley Sports Pavilion.
MLB is designating Buffalo's Willie Hutch Jones Educational & Sports Program (WHJESP) as a member of the RBI program. David James, MLB's Vice President of Baseball and Softball Development said the decision to add "Team Hutch" was clear-cut.
“When considering the Willie Hutch Jones Educational and Sports Program we researched their mission and their results,” said James. “What we found was that they are exactly the type of grass roots program we are looking for, to help us build a strong foundation for baseball and softball development in inner city locations across the United States. That’s why we are here making this announcement today. To afford these kinds of opportunities to underserved youth in the Buffalo Community.”
The MLB RBI program's goal is to increase participation and interest in baseball and softball among underserved youth, while also promoting diversity and inclusion.
The program provides baseball and softball opportunities for children ages 5 to 12, which serve as a feeder to the age 13 to 18 baseball and softball divisions.
The RBI Program will be initiated in this summer’s WHJESP baseball and softball clinics July 19th through August 20th. They will take place at Johnny B. Wiley Masten field, Canisius College's Demske Field, Riverside Park and Shoshone Park fields.
“The Buffalo Bisons have been long time supporters of youth and high school baseball in the city of Buffalo,” said Mike Buczkowski, President of Rich Baseball Operations. “The Rich family’s past investment of $225,000 to improve the baseball diamond at Johnnie B. Wiley makes that historic location a perfect place to begin the revival of youth baseball in Buffalo under the umbrella of Major League Baseball’s highly successful RBI program.”
The WHJESP is a year-round program offering clinics, academic enhancement, foreign language studies, performance arts, competitive chess, soccer, and science clubs, and workshops to enhance social and personal development.
“We have taken major strides over the last three decades in partnering with like-minded organizations such the Omega Mentoring Program,” said Buffalo Native and former NBA/LA Lakers Player, Willie “Hutch” Jones, who leads the program. “Receiving this support for our softball and baseball programs from Major League Baseball will allow us to reach so many more kids. There are girls and boys in our city neighborhoods that will now have an opportunity for better lives because of this program and we are grateful to the MLB for designating us as an RBI affiliate.”