This past week, we held our second annual Full Count Nike RBI Baseball Skills Academy at Jefferson High School. During this three-day camp, 30 ballplayers came to Jefferson to learn baseball fundamentals and improve their skills.
Highlights from the camp were:
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS: Nike, PIL, Dicks Sporting Goods Foundation, and Commissary Café
AND OUR PARTNERS: Mariners Care Foundation, The Underdog Mentality, MLB and IRCO
This past week, we had our third annual Full Count Nike RBI Girls Lead Softball Camp. Drawing the attention of over 30 softball campers, the event took place at University Park Softball field in Portland.
Highlights from the camp were:
Engaging softball skills stations with accomplished FOB coaches and fellows, dedicated collegiate players, and the expertise of Coach Erin Wilson from the Mariners Training Center.
We are thrilled to share the remarkable achievements of our young athletes in the recent Nike RBI West Regional Tournament held in Seattle, WA. The past weekend was filled with exceptional displays of skill and sportsmanship that made us extremely proud.
On Friday, July 14th, during the opening day's double-header, we celebrated a spectacular 5-0 victory against the Gamers Nike RBI from Alaska. Our players' dedication and hard work during training were evident in their outstanding performance on the field.
In a closely contested game 2, we fought until the very end but fell just short with a 0-1 loss to the Dodgers Dreamteam Nike RBI Juniors, who showcased their talents from Los Angeles, CA. The following day, our team took on the challenges posed by the Angels Nike RBI Juniors and the Baseball Beyond Borders Seattle Nike RBI Juniors. Despite tough battles, we finished with an overall record of 1-3, knowing that our players gave it their all until the very end.
We extend a massive shoutout and heartfelt gratitude to our exceptional ballplayers who represented FOB in the RBI Regional Tournament. They have not only demonstrated their commitment to our organization but also inspired the next generation of FOB ball players.
On Thursday, June 22nd, Friends of Baseball partnered with the City of Gresham, U.S. Council of Mayors and the Mariners Care Foundation, to offer a free youth Play Ball clinic for youth in the Gresham area.
At Pat Pfeifer Park, over 200 youth players were out having fun with our Full Count RBI Coaches/Mentors, our FOB Summer Fellows, and trainers from the Mariners Training Center.
The clinic featured:
We would like to give a HUGE shoutout to our partners and volunteers from FOB's RBI Regional Tournament team.
We had the best time during PlayBall Weekend on June 10th! Over 950 youth were impacted by FOB. As part of part of MLB's PlayBall Weekend, FOB partnered with the Seattle Mariners and PIL Athletics for the first ever Play Softball Portland!
Play Softball Portland Featured:
We also partnered with the Hillsboro Hops and Nike Diamond to put on 7 clinics around the Portland metro area.
Special thanks to our sponsors the Seattle Mariners, Mariners Care Foundation, Nike Diamond, PIL Athletics and McDaniel HS Softball.
And thank you to our community partners and vendors: NAYA PDX, PIL Coaches, Pickles Baseball, Nikki Brown Clown, Mystiques Fancy Faces, Kim Wilson Catering, and Sharon Thomas Photography!
Click below to download the 2023 Lunch and Play schedule and find a location near you!
Nike has become the presenting sponsor of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI). The program will now be referred to as Nike RBI. Find out more information here: https://www.mlb.com/news/nike-becomes-presenting-sponsor-of-rbi-program
On Jackie Robinson Day, we remember the momentous day in 1947 when Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, paving the way for future generations of Black players. However, in 2023, the struggle for access to play the game still persists, as highlighted by the story of the PDX Monarchs, a predominantly Black youth baseball team in Portland, Oregon.
In the summer of 2022, Friends of Baseball (FOB) and our Full Count RBI Baseball Academy organized summer skills workouts and skills camp for higher-level players in an effort to grow baseball feeder programs for Portland area schools and provide opportunities for young players to improve their skills. The camp aimed to fill the gap after Little League for players who could not afford to play on an independent team but had the passion and talent for the game.
FOB was approached by Cleatis Goodlow, a community member and longtime advocate for Black baseball in Portland, who brought FOB's attention to the needs of a youth team in the community. This team, made up of 16 Black players in 2023, was facing the possibility of being split up due to boundary restrictions caused by gentrification. In the past, Portland's Little League teams were plentiful in North and Northeast Portland, providing access points for Black players in the neighborhood. However, with the changing demographics of the area, many Black families were displaced, resulting in limited opportunities for Black players to play baseball. To keep this team together, they were encouraged to go independent, but this required support and resources. Gerald Bolden, Director of Baseball Operations at FOB and a longtime member of the local baseball community, shared the team's story and pipeline concerns with key baseball supporters and players in the Northwest.
Bolden said, "When kids get out of little league, there are no places for them to go unless they have $5000 a year to join a club team...This becomes an access issue... we want to work towards creating a pipeline so 12-year-olds who age out of little league and don't have a lot of money can still continue to play the game of baseball or softball."
In December of 2022, Goodlow and Bolden came together to explore ways to provide resources and support to the team. Thanks to the efforts of FOB and other local networks, Friends of Baseball was able to help develop the PDX Monarchs, and this team is now able to go independent and continue playing together, with access to resources for tournaments and equipment.
As an organization that promotes diversity, inclusion, and equality in baseball, Friends of Baseball is dedicated to creating opportunities for underrepresented youth to participate in the game. Director of Baseball Operations Gerald Bolden said, "As being a black person in a predominantly white sport, having coaches in front of kids that look like them is important because, growing up, if I saw someone like myself from the same neighborhood it would motivate me. I think there is a relatability factor when the coach looks like the players and there is more of an outlook of possibility.”
FOB's Full Count RBI programs engage youth ballplayers in baseball/softball, fostering social involvement, providing resources, and teaching valuable skills to enhance their game. According to Executive Director Aaron Dickson, when asked about the benefits of participating in our Full Count RBI Programs/camps he said, "We aim to provide a sense of belonging. Our youth not only learn how to play the game the right way, but they also receive mentorship from our coach mentors who instill important life lessons." By joining our programs and camps, youth gain access to resources such as scholarships and equipment, empowering them to learn and play the game to their fullest potential.
However, the challenges faced by the PDX Monarchs and other marginalized players are not limited to one season or one year. The fight for equal access to play baseball, regardless of race or background, is an ongoing struggle that requires continued support and efforts.
In addition to honoring Jackie Robinson's legacy, Friends of Baseball (FOB) is also organizing a special fundraising campaign on Jackie Robinson Day. The goal is to have each individual donate $42, in honor of Robinson's iconic jersey number, to support FOB's ongoing efforts to provide resources and opportunities for marginalized youth players, including the PDX Monarchs. By donating $42 to FOB, you can help make a difference in the lives of young baseball players who face barriers to access and support. Your contribution will go towards providing equipment, funding tournaments, and supporting baseball programs for underprivileged players in the Portland area. Together, we can continue to carry on Jackie Robinson's legacy by breaking down barriers and creating a more inclusive and diverse baseball community.
Join us in celebrating Jackie Robinson Day by donating $42 to FOB and showing your support for equal access to baseball for all players. Together, we can make a meaningful impact and help more young players, like the PDX Monarchs, continue their baseball journey.
#JackieRobinsonDay #42forFOB #Swing4TheFences2 #EqualityinBaseball #BlackBaseballMatters
or here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/143024165202927/600156235484002/
On Sunday, March 19th FOB returned back in person for our 16th Annual Coaches Clinic at McDaniel High School. It was great to see coaches from these leagues all represented at Sunday's event: Beaumont Softball, Cedar Mill LL, Hollywood Rose City LL, Lincoln Little League Softball, Lincoln Youth Baseball, North Portland LL, Parkside LL, Southwest Portland LL, Taborvilla LL, Tigard LL, and Wilshire Riverside LL.
The clinic featured:
WE ARE HONORED TO SHARE THIS YEAR'S SWING FOR THE FENCES SPECIAL GUEST, BOB KENDRICK, PRESIDENT OF THE NEGRO LEAGUES BASEBALL MUSEUM.
In March 2011, Bob Kendrick was named President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM). The NLBM is the world's only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African American baseball and its profound impact on the social advancement of America.
Kendrick is the creator of many signature museum educational programs, including the Hall of Game, which honors former Major League Baseball greats who played the game in the spirit and signature style of the Negro Leagues. Kendrick began his association with the NLBM as a volunteer during his 10-year newspaper career with The Kansas City Star. In his nearly 5 years on the Museum's board, Kendrick served as Secretary/Treasurer and chaired the Membership and Event Planning committees.
Bob Kendrick has become one of the leading authorities on the topic of Negro Leagues Baseball history and its connection to issues relating to sports, race, and diversity. In addition to his many industry honors and awards, he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
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Friends of Baseball
We believe every child should have the opportunities to swing for the fences on the field and in life.