RBI, short for Recycled Baseball Items, was formed in 1990 by a Houston Astro’s associate scout, Pat Dwyer, in a garage in Alvin Texas. Pat was later encouraged by Astro Enos Cabell to relocate to Houston. A friend of Dr. Nash attended a presentation at a Rotary Club meeting and called him to get him to join in the effort. Since 1992, Dr. Nash has been involved as a Board member, Executive Director and Equipment supervisor.
In addition to donations from colleges, high schools and various leagues, RBI also obtains equipment from special sources, including EAGLE SCOUT projects and youngsters who have asked friends to attend their birthday party and bring equipment for RBI instead of a birthday gift. On three occasions, the Astros advertised a special night for fans to bring equipment to the ball game to be donated to RBI. Participating colleges include Rice, The University of Houston, San Jacinto College, Galveston, Texas Southern, Houston Baptist and St. Thomas University. Bay Area Youth Sports in Clear Lake and Cypress Fairbanks deserves special mention for their enormous donations. Three sons of Dr. Kurt Juergens donated 3 trailer loads of equipment to RBI as a part of their Eagle Scout badges. Two of these young men are currently playing football at Brigham Young University. Regular donations in large quantities have been received from Wallace Bros. Sports Company. Owner Alan Wallace, has returned to his previous work as a Houston Police officer.On one occasion we were given a large donation from the family of Oliver Luck.
As executive director of the RBI charity in Houston, Dr. Nash was asked by Carlos Monsanto, a Guatemalan professor of Spanish at the University of Houston, to assist the youth of Guatemala to resume sports activities after Hurricane Mitch devastated the entire country. With the help of TACA Airlines RBI sent 50 bags of sports equipment with the local assistance of Guatemalan Vice-President Dr. Luis Flores. While there, DR. Nash lectured to the confede medical team.
On two subsequent visits to speak about training and performance enhancement, Dr. Nash was please to host Pablo Ramazzini, one of the athletes, in a successful effort to diagnose and correct the causative mechanism of his painful throwing arm. Pablo Ramazzini came to Houston for care of his ailing arm and since it interrupted his schooling, Dr. Nash agreed to sign Guardianship papers to allow him to enter school while in Houston. He graduated high school and was awarded a baseball scholarship to Texas A&M / Kingsville, where he also graduated before returning to Guatemala to graduate from Medical School. Pablois presently serving a residency in Plastic Surgery.
Information about the donation to Guatemala was spread across Central America by way of communication during interleague play. During a visit to Houston on Rotary Club business, Marty Holman called RBI to ask for help in her home country of Nicaragua. The requested equipment was prepared, and during the flight down, the trip was shared with a large group of Rotarians on their way to assist the Nicaraguans in building houses. RBI has continued to answer requests for additional helping houses for their own use. From this meeting and a visit to a large Catholic orphanage in Chinandega, RBI has sent both sports equipment and medical supplies to the orphanage, assisting in the development of a medical clinic at the orphanage. This facility was filmed in the documentary entitled “Children of the Dump”.
The area outside Chinandega was used as a garbage dump and the youth learned they could find food and clothing at the dump. The Catholic Church was in the vicinity and the Priests could observe such activity, so they opened a Church sponsored program to provide food and clothing which evolved into a complete orphanage for refuge to the children. Their schooling included dance and music programs. The choir was so successful that they were invited to tour internationally, and in time were invited to join with Andrea Bocelli touring Europe, Bocelli then pledged to fund a music program at the orphanage.
RBI continued to supply the orphanage as requested, and additionally furnished equipment to the youth programs in Rivas and Managua through requests from the Holman family, who served as directors for baseball in Nicaragua. Back home, RBI was requested to provide a presentation to the Pearland Rotary Club, and this resulted in donations to their program in Colombia, Central America, mainly in the communities of Bogota and Cartagena.
In 2011, RBI received a request to help youth in the program of the Dallas Baseball Alliance in Lancaster, Texas, this request was fulfilled. Following the 2015 tornado destruction in that area, RBI contacted their Director, Mr. Lamar Brooks, to offer assistance to any group affected.
The Guatemalan program also organized a trip to the US for 24 young ballplayers to experience U. S. baseball training and visit the Astros. This endeavor was sponsored by Continental Airlines and RBI. It was so successful that we organized another trip two years later for Nicaraguan players. That trip was also sponsored by Continental Airlines and by Marriott Hotels. The Astros hosted the players to a game with the Chicago Cubs. Following the game, Sammy Sosa and Matty Alou joined Jose Lima to personally speak to the players about playing the game in the right manner to respect authority and learn how hard work pays off by improving their skills; just as in daily life growing up. The players were also taken to Baseball USA, several high schools and colleges to observe the special training at each site. Ron Wolfolk hosted them at his training site, Baseball Ranch.
As a result of RBI’s work one of the Guatemalan coaches, Maurecio Montenegro, began to take notes for organizing a special Baseball Academy to implement this type of program in Guatemala in an effort to advance youth baseball to a higher, more competitive level. In a period of 5 years, he had developed the players to the point that their 16 and under team was champion of Central America and Caribbean competition, and competed in the U. S. With a win at that tournament. This was the first time Guatemala had ever advanced beyond the Caribbean tournament. One of the players from that team has been signed to a full scholarship at Southern Mississippi University. Another player from that team will be playing high school baseball in Tampa, Florida in 2016. The Academy has complimented the program by hiring coaches from Cuba.
Another RBI special donation was at the request of West End Presbyterian Church, and equipment was donated to children of Rongrong Island in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific. One of the church members, Ms. Maryanne Ezell, had taught there and wanted to assist the children by sending a variety of sports equipment. RBI supplied the equipment and Ms. Ezell arranged shipment.
A Corpus Christi family requested help for the Dakota Sioux Indian tribe, to which RBI responded by sending a large donation of equipment, shoes and clothing. The requesting family of Eric Dewolf from Corpus Christi, Texas delivered the donation to South Dakota.
RBI has sent sixteen packages to Military units in the Middle East, with each donation consisting of: 1 dozen softballs, 6 bats, 12 gloves, 2 volleyballs, 2 soccer balls, 2 footballs, 2 golf putters, 12 golf balls, a 12 foot piece of Astroturf for putting greens, 4 Frisbees, 2 badminton sets, 6 tennis balls, 1 set of throw down bases and a set of 8 washers with a 4 inch piece of PVC pipe to be used for the hole and also used for the hole in the putting green.
RBI’s programs also include 3 drug/alcohol rehabilitation programs; Open Door Mission, La Marque program and Houston’s Right Step, 3 foster homes, Boys & Girls Country in Hockley, Texas, Baptist Church Family Services and the Forge of Houston, as well as Catholic Charities of Houston.
RBI has equipped the Police Athletic League (PAL) of Houston and Corpus Christi, and the Alvin Police Special Needs Organization. Galveston Parks & Recreation also received equipment at the request of Director Barbara Sanderson.
Based on the success of the Guatemalan players’ visit to Houston, the airlines requested that we make the same offer to Dominican Republic. RBI sent a delegation to establish a dialogue with the Baseball leadership there, which included baseball major league players Manny Acta and Mariano Duncan. This visit resulted in a collaboration between Continental Airlines, Marriott Hotels and RBI sponsoring a group of 24 youngsters to travel to the US for a visit similar to those for Guatemala and Nicaragua.
In 2002, Felix Fraga, Director of Ripley House asked Dr. Nash to present a program on proper field maintenance for the staff at Ripley House. The Director of Field Care at Minute Maid Park, Dan Bergstrom, was asked by Dr. Nash to provide assistance with the program. When Dan inspected the field, he declared that it was unsafe for play. Together, Dan and RBI completely rebuilt the playing field. During that two week project, they were observed by Jose Barron who asked us to assist Jeff Davis HS in constructing a playing field for girl’s softball since the girls were having to share a practice field with boy’s baseball. In two weeks they transformed a playground into a softball diamond for use by the girls. RBI thanks Dan and staff, as well as the Astros for their cooperation.
RBI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to helping youth learn and enjoy sports as an alternative to other less favorable outlets.