Three dozen 5- and 6-year-olds sat around the pitcher’s mound on a baseball diamond behind Bessie Carmichael School on Thursday as Mayor Ed Lee read them “Curious George at the Baseball Game,” surrounded by cameras and microphones.
Some children picked flowers; others stared nervously at the adults visiting their South of Market school. But they listened politely, clapping, cheering and raising their hands when prompted.
“When you are literate, you are going to be that much more successful,” Lee assured them.
The interim mayor’s youngest constituents won’t be able to vote for him this November, when he appears on the ballot seeking a full term. But Lee still came out to support RBI San Francisco, a nonprofit that promotes baseball and literacy at Bessie Carmichael.
“We’re using the game of baseball to improve our schools,” Lee said.
He also heaped praise on PG&E, which announced a $250,000 donation to RBI.
“Isn’t that a wonderful contribution from a great local corporation?” Lee said. “They’re a great company that gets it.”
PG&E’s generosity came just two days after the National Transportation Safety Board blamed it for a deadly San Bruno gas line explosion one year ago. The blast and subsequent fire destroyed a neighborhood, killing eight.
A PG&E spokesman said the timing was coincidental.
“We’re really here to talk about kids,” said Joe Molica, declining to discuss the damning criticism.
RBI, which stands for “Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities,” as well as “Reach, Believe and Inspire,” is a nationwide program of Major League Baseball. In addition to organizing teams for students who previously have lacked access to the sport, San Francisco’s branch will put literacy tutors in Bessie Carmichael classrooms.
“Basically, what we want to do is create good student athletes,” said Jim Messemer, RBI’s director. “We really wanted to serve an underserved part of San Francisco.”