Teixeira joins Bloomberg for Harlem RBI event

Teixeira joins Bloomberg for Harlem RBI event

Teixeira joins Bloomberg for Harlem RBI event
NEW YORK -- When Mark Teixeira was a kid, his parents would tell him to finish his schoolwork before he could play ball.

"They understood that education was No. 1," he said.

It is lessons such as those that he carries to this day, and it is a big reason why he has been so involved with Harlem RBI, a nonprofit agency that provides athletic activities and clinics for inner-city youth.

On Monday, Teixeira joined New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at Harlem RBI's Field of Dreams in East Harlem to announce a partnership to develop an East Harlem facility that will include roughly 90 new affordable-housing units, the DREAM Charter School, and Harlem RBI's program and office space.

"I met with [Harlem RBI executive director] Rich Berlin, and we just had a great conversation about what they're doing here and all the things that they have planned," Teixeira said. "And when I said I want to be a part of the family, the first thing Rich said was, 'All right, we're raising $20 million, do you want to help chair the capital campaign?' "

Texeira donated $1 million and agreed to raise $9 million more.

The project, as currently planned, will cost $85 million, and ground is expected to break on the 13-story, 150,000-square foot building in the summer of 2012. It is expected to open on 104th Street between Second and Third Avenues in the summer of 2014.

Up to 450 students between kindergarten and eighth grade are expected to be accommodated.

"If one of these kids happens to become a Major Leaguer, great," Teixeira said. "But what we're all here for is to make sure that they get great educations, they have an opportunity to go on to college and to be what they want.

"These kids are going to be the future leaders of this community. They're going to come back and they're going to volunteer with Harlem RBI. They're going to run the businesses. They're going to be the ones at the podium talking about a new project that they're starting together, because of the opportunities that they had through Harlem RBI."

Teixeira and Bloomberg were joined by New York City Housing Authority chairman John Rhea, Schools chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, Department of Housing, Preservation and Development commissioner Matthew M. Wambua and council member Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Nearly 100 kids were on hand for the announcement, cheering after each person spoke to the crowd.

"There was some truth to the rumor that Mark and I were going to swap jobs, until we both walked by the kids and they all kept saying, 'Who are you?' and "Mr. Mayor, we love you, we love you, love you,'" Bloomberg said to a field full of laughs. "And I said, 'What about Mark Teixeira?' and they said, 'We never heard of him.'

"Unfortunately for me, that was not true. It was just the reverse."

Teixeira said he has done community work during other stops in his Major League career, but has never been so involved with one organization.

"I'm a Harlem RBI family member," Teixeira said. "I'm going to be here. As long as I'm alive, I'm going to be supporting Harlem RBI because I know that this organization, this community, does so much good. And I can't wait for a few years from now to be at the ribbon-cutting to open the doors of the home for Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter School. And I'm into this for the long haul."

Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.