[Q] What are some facts [answer]
[Q] What are some facts [answer]
By Anne Delaney - Observer Dispatch
The Utica Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program is safe at home - for now.
The Thomas M. Lindsey Memorial Youth Athletic League, a part of the second-year Utica RBI program, was facing a field shortage before the scheduled start of the season next month.
Without a second field, there was concern the older players would have to join the Babe Ruth League, but that league's tryouts might keep some of the less-experienced 13-to-15-year-olds off the field for the summer.
The program will go on for the older athletes because an East Utica field has been found, said Bernard Hyman, Oneida County Assistant District Attorney and league director.
The league has secured Jack Price Field in F.T. Proctor Park off Culver Avenue for the older RBI athletes. The 8-to-12-year-olds will remain at Quinn Park at St. Vincent and Rutger streets, where the league games were played last year.
"Huge relief, huge relief," Hyman said. Hyman said the league remains in search for another permanent facility for inner city players, many whom cannot rely on transportation to fields throughout Utica. There was no danger of cancelling the season for the 13- to 15-year-old players. "I wouldn't say we were terribly close because we weren't going to give up," Hyman said. "We're going to look for other space if we had to."
The RBI concept was developed by former major leaguer and scout John Young, and Major League Baseball assumed control of the program in 1991 with the assistance of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mohawk Valley, the City of Utica Youth Bureau, the Oneida County Youth Bureau and the Utica Police Department announced in April 2009 that MLB approved its application for an RBI affiliate. The league is named in memory of Thomas Lindsey, the Utica police officer who was killed in the line of duty in April 2007.
This year, the RBI league opens June 26 and runs through the middle of August. The schedule includes 12 games for each team and playoff games, Hyman said. Three sign-up sessions last week led to about 89 registrations, Hyman said.
Another registration day will is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 5, during a clinic at Quinn Park. The clinic is open to 6- to 8-year-olds from 10 a.m. to noon, 8- to 12-year-olds from noon to 2 p.m. and 12-to 15-year-olds from 2 to 4 p.m. More than 180 players signed up for the program last year, which was a surprising number for Hyman who was told he was not going to be successful in attracting inner-city athletes to the sport.
"The biggest problem, I think the reason is, how much it does cost to play basketball versus baseball," Hyman said. "Basketball is not that much. I saw a youth baseball bat the other day and it said $200. That's what I think the problem is, the cost for inner city kids is prohibitive."
Hyman said the next step is getting another field for inner-city athletes so the league can count on a field from year to year. "We're still talking about what to do in future years," Hyman said. "We'd like to have a field built in Cornhill. All of the other areas of Utica have their own baseball complexes, for lack of a better word, where they have field. We're looking now about talking to the city about unused land in Cornhill."
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