The DC Grays are a unique baseball program in many respects, and one of the many things that sets the Grays apart is its unwavering commitment to community service. When the Grays started as a Ripken League franchise in 2012, the team offered free baseball clinics to local youth leagues and local organizations. While the clinics proved popular and grew in number, the parent organization of the DC Grays wanted to make an even bigger impact. In 2016, DC Grays Baseball (the all-volunteer non-profit that runs the Grays) partnered with Major League Baseball to bring MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner-cities (RBI) program back to the nation's capital. DC Grays RBI was launched that summer, and the program has been growing ever since.
By offering free baseball and softball programs to boys and girls from all over Washington, DC Grays RBI is bringing baseball to underserved areas of the community. The program accepts kids from across the region (no one gets turned away), but the majority of kids in DC Grays RBI are from Wards 6, 7 and 8 – the most economically-disadvantaged areas of the city.
DC Grays RBI is a comprehensive program that serves kids from Little League all the way through high school. The program is made up of the following:
Ward 7 Baseball – This is a summer "house" league for kids 10-12 years old of any skill level.
Junior Travel Baseball (8U/10U/12U) - This program is for more advanced players ages 10-12.
Junior Softball (10U/12U) - This is a developmental program for girls up to age 12 who are just learning the game.
Senior Travel Baseball (15U/18U) - These teams compete in regional tournaments against top
Senior Travel Softball (14U/16U/18U/23U) - These teams compete in regional and national
Currently, DC Grays RBI includes kids from several Washington, DC Little Leagues - including Mamie
Johnson Little League, Ward 8 Little League, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) Little League, Senators-Satchel Paige Little League and Banneker City Little League - as well as many middle school and high school baseball programs. The goal is to consistently reach out to additional Little Leagues and other youth baseball and softball programs to get more kids to participate in DC Grays RBI.
“We emphasize teamwork and dedication, and we want the kids to play the game the right way,” said Head Baseball Coach Brad Burris. “There are a lot of kids in DC who love baseball and softball. If you give them an opportunity, they will excel!”
A TRUE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE, AT NO COST: DC Grays RBI has made it a goal to give inner-city DC kids the same access to high-level baseball as kids in better-resourced communities. For example, our RBI baseball coaches Brad Burris (Howard University), Antonio Scott (Howard University), Keith Barnes (Virginia State), and Jabari Graham (Alcorn State) all played college baseball for HBCU baseball programs. Head Softball Coach Harry Thomas is also the Head Coach at Washington Adventist University. In order to marry that high-level coaching with outstanding competition, this year more DC Grays RBI teams will be participating in more local and regional tournaments than ever before.
Meanwhile, the Ward 7 Baseball program is planning to field five teams with a total of approximately 75 kids from Wards 7 and 8. They will be playing games at Fort Davis Rec Center and Benning Stoddart Rec Center. Jason Medina, an MPD officer and a graduate of the Harlem RBI program in New York, will once again be coordinating the Ward 7 Baseball program with his dedicated community volunteers.
“Playing with DC Grays RBI has been great for our kids” said Keith Barnes, president of Mamie Johnson Little League and a DC Grays RBI coach. “Being able to play in the summer, after our Little League season ends, lets our kids keep playing and learning the game. We are about baseball and softball opportunities for kids – and the kids and their families love it.”
JACKIE ROBINSON FIELDS: There are other exciting developments under way as well. DC Grays RBI is
working with the District government on renovations to Jackie Robinson Fields 1 and 2, to ensure
regular access to both the baseball and softball fields during the summer and fall. In order to make this a fitting home for DC Grays RBI, certain basic improvements to the fields are badly needed –
scoreboards, dugouts, infield improvements, pitcher’s mounds, bullpens, batting cages, stands. Last
summer, Ward 7 Councilman and baseball fan Vincent Gray secured funding to begin upgrading these
fields. DC Grays RBI is working with DC Department of Parks and Recreation on an agreement to allow us to maintain the fields during the summer and fall. Program partner Mamie Johnson Little League has begun to already to purchase field mowers, graders and infield dragging equipment that coaches will use to keep the field in top shape for the kids in the RBI program.
FALL BALL and WINTER TRAINING: DC Grays RBI also runs a fall baseball and softball program and a
winter indoor training season. Last year, DC Grays RBI baseball partnered with the St. James in
Springfield, which allowed DC Grays RBI players to practice in top-flight indoor facilities and work with a professional strength and conditioning program.