- Associated Press - Sunday, March 1, 2015

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - When the city started a youth baseball program geared toward predominantly black communities a decade ago, some children would show up wearing jeans and without baseball gloves.

So the city would come up with the money to pay for a glove here or a baseball uniform there.

The baseball program, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, also known as RBI, has grown over the past decade, with 26 teams now. But the need for money remains.

City officials were pleased to formally accept a $22,000 donation from Major League Baseball Charities at the City Council meeting last Tuesday.

“It’s going to come in good use for us,” Darrell Crittendon, director of the city’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Open Space, said after the meeting. “If you have money, you’re able to provide the kids with the best-quality equipment and uniforms.”

It’s the first time the RBI program has received a donation from MLB Charities, Crittendon said.

He said the money would largely go toward travel expenses for teams that qualify for postseason tournaments, for uniforms and equipment for children in need, and to financially support new teams.

The RBI program serves communities such as Barraud Park, Park Place, Huntersville, Fairlawn and East Ocean View.

It helps expose black youths to the game of baseball, which has taken a back seat to football and basketball in Norfolk’s inner city, Crittendon said.

The donation is a significant boost for the RBI program.

The city provides about $50,000 a year for youth sports, but football gets a sizable chunk of that, Crittendon said.

He said he learned three or four weeks ago that the baseball program would get the donation.

“I was very happy,” he said. “This does a lot for self-esteem. If you look good, you play good.”

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com

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