BALTIMORE (AP) -Cal Ripken wants to share his love of baseball with inner-city children, and he's going to put up big money to get this message across.
Major League Baseball and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation are partnering to expand the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. Over the next two years, Ripken's foundation will contribute nearly $1 million in cash, donations and equipment,
``Frankly, we couldn't ask for a better partner for the RBI program,'' Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating office, said Monday. ``We are enormously honored to have one of the terrific ambassadors to the game. ... We believe this will increase the footprint alone in the United States by 30 percent, in terms of the numbers of kids that participate in the RBI program.''
Ripken, who played his 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles, will be inducted in July into the Hall of Fame along with San Diego's Tony Gwynn. Ripken has long been a proponent of youth baseball; the Ripken Foundation works throughout the country with Boys and Girls Clubs, inner-city schools and other such organizations to use the sport as a teaching tool for children.
``It does make a lot of sense to merge our resources,'' Ripken said. ``I'm excited about the possibilities that exist in our partnership.''
Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins, Carl Crawford of Tampa Bay and Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies are alumni of the RBI program.
``We're not reaching kids so that the end result is a big league career. It's actually using baseball to teach life lessons,'' Ripken said. ``A very small percentage of all kids go onto fulfill their dream of being a big league players. But baseball can impact the direction of their lives.''
Founded in 1989, RBI has programs in more than 200 cities worldwide, and annually provides as many as 120,000 boys and girls the opportunity to play baseball and softball.

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