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PREP EXTRA / A weekly look at the high school sports
scene in the Southland | City Section Report

Local Baseball Players to Receive RBI Honors

April 09, 1998|GARY KLEIN

Three City Section high school athletes and one junior high student will receive awards today at the Reviving Baseball in Innercities (RBI) Hall of Fame banquet at Dodger Stadium.

Hansel Lugo, a senior baseball player at Huntington Park, and Jwana Hernandez, a junior softball player at Fremont, will be presented with Bart Giamatti awards in recognition of their accomplishments in the classroom and the field.

Marques Pugh, an eighth-grader at Monroe Middle School in Inglewood and junior Danielle Scott of Crenshaw will receive Cliff Ditto awards as the outstanding baseball and softball players, respectively, who have participated in the RBI program this past year.

Former Dodger manager Tom Lasorda and former major league players George Hendrick and Al Cowens also will be honored.

RBI began in 1989 in Los Angeles by former major league player, scout and executive John Young as an attempt to give inner-city youth opportunities to play baseball.

This year, more than 1,500 kids in Los Angeles and 100,000 nationwide will participate in 90 RBI programs.

Today at Loyola Marymount and USC, quarterfinals in the 18-team RBI high school baseball tournament will be played. Semifinals and the final will be played Saturday at USC.

"This is the first year we had to turn teams away," Young said. "Next year, we'll go to 32 teams."

Young said he is pleased with the growth of the RBI program, which has the backing of Major League Baseball, but sees room for improvement.

"There are a lot of people with other youth programs in the inner city doing good things," Young said. "RBI is not here to tear down or diminish what people who have been fighting the good fight have been doing all along. We need to work together."

This summer, the RBI World Series will be played at Disney's Wild World of Sports complex in Florida. A Los Angeles team has not won a World Series since 1995, but that is of little concern to Young.

"I would rather lose a regional with the kids that need the program than go to World Series with kids that have programs and resources available elsewhere," he said. "I'm more concerned about numbers and getting kids playing."

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