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04/07/08 4:36 PM ET

Royals help launch new season of RBI

KC Hall of Famers Otis, Wilson help raise funds for program

With the 2008 season already underway for the Kansas City Royals, it's time for another area baseball league to jump-start its season.

On Friday, April 4, the Royals once again join KPMG, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, the Kansas City Department of Parks & Recreation, KPRS HOT 103 JAMZ and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum as partners in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. To get the season off to a good start, the Royals called on a couple Major League veterans, and, in return, the former Royals outfielders answered that call in a couple of big ways.

Royals Hall of Famers Amos Otis and Willie Wilson headlined the lineup as featured speakers for the annual RBI First Pitch Luncheon in the Crown Club at Kauffman Stadium. The two Royals greats, lending their voices to the 2008 season of RBI in Kansas City, participated in a brief Q&A session before personalizing a pair of autographed baseball bats and encouraging attendees to help support the popular program. During the baseball bat auction alone, Otis and Wilson were able to help raise more than $5,000 for the program.

Since its inception in Kansas City in 1992, RBI has impacted the lives of many area children ages 5-18, who are searching for a safe alternative and new direction in life. Although on the surface the organization strives to teach and promote America's favorite pastime, the core principle of RBI reaches far beyond learning to steal a base or catch a popup.

With a commitment to fundamentals each year, the RBI program emphasizes teamwork and sportsmanship both on and off the field. This season the program plans to have at least 65 teams, giving nearly 1,000 area youth a chance to play baseball and softball for the summer. Again, the Royals are stepping up to the plate by playing an active role in fund-raising, securing facilities and hosting RBI players to a special night at Kauffman Stadium.

For both Otis and Wilson, the RBI program now holds an even more special place in each of their hearts, especially for Otis, who was nudged by Wilson to attend the luncheon.

"I'm retired in every sense of the word and I'm happy to be retired in every sense of the word," said Otis, who spent 14 years (1970-83) as the Royals center fielder. "But, I came back here for this because Willie called and reminded me that RBI is something great."

For more information or to help support the RBI program, please contact the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City at (816) 361-3600 or visit www.helpkckids.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.