Mola Lenghi, NBC 5 Arlington Reporter
The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of Arlington are hosting this year's Southwest Regional Tournament for the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. Arlington is hosting players from Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.
America's past time is more than a game for youth playing in a baseball tournament in Arlington.
"It's a big part of my life. I don't know what I'd be doing without it," said Christian Montes, 17, of Houston, who is playing in the Reviving Baseball Inner-Cities program.
RBI is nationwide program sponsored by Major League Baseball and Boys and Girls Clubs. It gives inner-city youth an option they may not otherwise have.
"High schools have so many kids on their teams that if you're either on the B team or C team, and they don't even get to play at some high schools, so, if it wasn't for us they'd be left out," said Santiago Saenz, assistant director of program for the Arlington-Fort Worth Chapter of the Boys and Girls Club.
Brian White, the head coach of the RBI team from Houston, agreed.
"[The kids] may get into things that are negative -- doing things that may get them in trouble and get a criminal record, so we give them an opportunity to do something they love and productive to further their lives," he said.
But baseball has become a harder sell in recent years, RBI leaders say.
"It is hard to get inner-city kids to want to play baseball," Saenz said. "You can't put too much swagger into baseball the way you can into basketball or any other sport."
But those who do decide to play ball find more than just fastballs, base hits and pop-flies. Montes said he has camaraderie with his teammates and gets to meet new people.
White said the program tries to make sure the kids are ready to hit the curve balls life will throw at them.
"We try to teach them more than just the game," he said. "That's what we love, but we try to prepare them for life after this game and give them something positive that they can build towards."