Bob Lutz (League 42)
For many years, organized baseball has been absent from many of Wichita’s inner city neighborhoods. While a small percentage of the underprivileged youth from those neighborhoods found a way to participate in distant leagues, a majority of those youth never got the opportunity to dig in at the plate, toe the rubber … or learn to love America’s true pastime. Wichita is not alone in this disheartening situation. For two generations, the percentage of minority youth who play baseball has steadily dropped throughout the nation. This trend has even affected Major League Baseball. After seeing African-American players fill 30% of its teams’ rosters in the 1970s, that percentage dropped to just 8.05% in 2012. This fact has not escaped MLB’s attention. To address the issue, MLB developed its Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. League 42, a name that honors Jackie Robinson, is a not-for-profit organization with the purpose of introducing baseball to the youth of Wichita who may not have had a chance to experience this great game, and benefit from its life lessons. Simply put, we want to help underprivileged children develop a love for baseball, and experience what playing this game can teach them about life. Just as Jackie Robinson opened up baseball and many other areas of society to minorities, League 42 is open to any and every youth between the ages 5-12. The league will provide coaches, umpires, facilities and uniforms. To keep this opportunity affordable, League 42 will charge the minimal fee of just $30 per player. To further help ensure every youth has the opportunity to play, League 42 is collecting new and used baseball gloves, bats and other equipment to provide for families who need assistance. We don’t want the lack of a glove to prevent any kid from getting to play baseball.