It's unlikely anyone was working harder for AAU Baseball this year than John Pineau. And with reason. As Sports Director for Maryland AAU Baseball, Pineau is commissioner of the RBI Wood Bat League based in Anne Arundel, Kent, Prince George’s, Calvert, and Baltimore Counties and whose job is to get Maryland playing AAU Baseball—one of the sport’s so-called “Big 4” organizations at the national level: AAU, American Legion, USSSA, AABC.
How well he does with that could have far-reaching implications for both Maryland AAU Baseball and AAU Baseball in the Mid-Atlantic States region. "Our opportunity is to keep the players and teams that come along to our league for the first time, to keep them engaged, keep them excited," Pineau said. "That's a challenge, certainly. But I think it's one that we're up to as a league and national affiliation. AAU Baseball is a terrific foundation for that."
A highlight of the year was helping sponsor the Negro Baseball Leagues Hall of Fame East-West Vintage Game at Bowie Baysox Stadium on August 15. The game was played by former Major League Baseball, collegiate and Maryland AAU Baseball players and coaches dressed in vintage attire appropriately representing the diversity of players—African-Americans, Hispanics, Cubans, Dominicans and Caucasians—who played the sport in the early 1900s.
Judging from the club and the league it runs’ results, the prospects are high. Heading into the AAU Fall Wood Bat State Championships — which will see the Ruth’s Baseball Ideals (RBI) Baseball Club in Annapolis, Md., host for the fourth consecutive year — the average number of teams throughout the 2015 spring, summer and fall seasons was overall strong. "It's all interrelated. And I think it's very important to what we do," Pineau said of AAU, RBI and the club’s teams and a healthy league.
Pineau said RBI gives players a place to continue to play and develop as amateurs ages 13 into early adulthood. AAU Baseball also sends a message to the rest of the baseball world that Maryland takes the sport seriously. "Going into the 2016 season, the goal is to continue to grow and sustain the sport," he said. "And an AAU sanctioned league is a big part of that. Having a national affiliation to be part of, I think that's important."
RBI still has much work to do — such as camps and clinics, showcases, tournaments, for example. “None of us have any doubt about the future," Pineau said. "We're operating. We're open for business. And we'll be open for business next year. It's now about growth and maturation as a club, a league and the brand."
That future appears bright: RBI sent over 20 players to college this year. “It’s a tough thing to coach at this level and the time that it requires,” Pineau said. “But we look back and see firsthand all the positive things all of our players have achieved. That’s where we are much different from other clubs. We produce quality players that go to college. That statement alone is where we stand out above the rest.”