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Dodgers boost youth baseball in South L.A.

Emphasizing sports, education and health

Merdies Hayes Editor | 3/28/2019, 2:32 p.m.
South Los Angeles was once a hub for youth baseball, with a long list of talented..

South Los Angeles was once a hub for youth baseball, with a long list of talented players who made it to the major leagues. By the mid 1970s, however, this tradition foundered because of economics as the game of choice began to shift toward less expensive sports, like basketball. Early baseball training was neglected locally and moved to the White suburbs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) is trying to turn that around. They’re partnering with the Compton Parks & Recreation Department to expand youth baseball and softball to an additional 360 participants this year. The Compton Parks & Recreation Department will join 12 existing partners to implement LADF’s Dodgers RBI program to 10,500 youth at 85 locations in the neighborhoods of Compton, East Los Angeles, Northeast Los Angeles, Inglewood, Hawthorne, Harbor City, Cudahy, Florence-Firestone, South Los Angeles, Long Beach and Lynwood. Details for each location can be found at Dodgers.com/dodgersrbi.

“It’s incredibly hard for youth from low income families to participate in sports. Sports participation matters because of the effects it has on the social, emotional and physical well-being of our youth. Dodgers RBI is all about offering youth who want to play, regardless of income, a chance,” said Nichol Whiteman, LADF chief executive officer. “We know that cities like Compton benefit from our comprehensive sport, education and health programming and we are pleased to welcome them into our youth development family.”

With an annual median income of $45,000 and a reported 30 percent of families living below $20,000 a year, Compton is not only low for Los Angeles County, but also well below the United States median income. Children from households with incomes less than $25,000 annually are three times more likely to be physically inactive as kids from high-income homes.

Baseball participation is 8 percent below the national average and the college graduation rate is below 10 percent. Compton has one of the highest African-American populations in Los Angeles County (29.83percent). As well, Compton has produced some of the most famous baseball players of the modern era, including hall of famers Eddie Murray and Ozzie Smith. Dodgers RBI places emphasis on increasing participation among African- American youth, girls and youth ages 13-18 years.

“The city of Compton is excited to partner with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation to provide Dodgers RBI to the youth of Compton,” said Marvin Hunt, director of the Compton Department of Parks & Recreation. “The ongoing partnership will provide a revitalized program of baseball, tee-ball, and softball to Compton youth. This is a beautiful celebration of sportsmanship and a symbol of unity.”

In addition to youth baseball and softball, Dodgers RBI helps increase access to education, literacy, health, wellness and recreational resources in underserved communities. New for 2019, the Dodgers RBI program will include college preparation workshops, trauma informed coach training and increased law enforcement participation. Twenty (20) college workshops for 9-12th graders will be customized to each grade level and feature separate parent and student components.

In addition, LADF will be granting Dodgers RBI players a special opportunity to meet one-on-one with a college advisor to assist with college selection, preparation and financing. Coach trainings will not only outline the physical skills needed to teach baseball, but it will instill positive coaching methods and techniques appropriate for youth who have experienced any level of trauma. Over 150 law enforcement officials will participate in college workshops, clinics and more.