Galveston, Texas – March 28, 2009 – Not many folks in the Galveston area were thinking about baseball last September when Hurricane Ike pounded the community with storm surge from the Gulf and 120mph winds and rain. Yet six months after that storm altered the landscape of Galveston, Little Leaguers all around the region are kicking off their season thanks to the fortitude and spirit of countless volunteers and the generosity of a non-for-profit charity from the Philadelphia area called Pitch In For Baseball®.
Late in 2005 Pitch In For Baseball joined forces with Little League International to assist Gulf Coast families and leagues affected by the Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. When Hurricane Ike came ashore in 2008, Pitch In For Baseball took action. “It was clear to us from the start that the Little League community in Galveston was a special group of people,” said David Rhode, Executive Director of Pitch In For Baseball. “We told them that whatever their equipment needs were we would do our best to get them what they needed to play ball in the spring of 2009.”
However, the damage was so extensive and impacted so many leagues that understanding the totality of the baseball recovery was a complicated task. Some leagues lost their fields, fencing and lighting. Almost all leagues suffered massive losses in their equipment rooms. This is where a Little League volunteer with an extensive military background took over. District Administrator, Charlie Sweetin has responsibility for the leagues in the Galveston Gulf Coast area. “Our league presidents from Galveston Island, Galveston West Isle, Hitchcock, La Marque, League City Seabrook, San Leon, Santa Fe, Texas City and Baytown committed to having a season in 2009. It was simply a matter of understanding what each league needed and then trying to find some way to fill those needs.”
What they didn’t count on was a friend they’ve never met from over 1,500 miles away stepping in to join their team. “When Pitch In For Baseball contacted us in October to see how they could help, it gave us a tremendous feeling of hope,” said Sweetin. “The equipment they promised us gave us confidence in realizing our dream to have Opening Day on schedule in the coming spring.”
As promised, the equipment showed up…over 2,000 pounds of equipment. There were pallets of batting helmets, baseballs, catcher’s gear, bats, batting tees and equipment bags. There were even score books and coaching DVD’s. Local volunteers sorted the donated items and got them distributed to their respective leagues and coaches in time for the start of practice in February.
” We couldn’t have made a donation of this scale without the generous support of passionate baseball fans around the country who believe in our mission,” said Rhode. Anyone wishing to support the ongoing relief effort in Galveston can donate equipment or make a financial donation online through the Pitch In For Baseball website at www.pitchinforbaseball.org.
Much work still needs to be done. Lighting, fencing, score boards and other high ticket items are still on the shopping list for many of the area programs. But for the kids about to taking the field around the Galveston Gulf Coast area, this Opening Day will be one to remember.
Zack Hample joins the Pitch In For Baseball team
New York, NY-Just when the Hot Stove League appeared to be drying up, the dominant player at his position has found his team for 2009. Zack Hample, the recognized leader of snagging baseballs at MLB ballparks, will be bringing his unique talents to the non profit organization Pitch In For Baseball® during the 2009 season.
Zack’s credentials place him at the pinnacle of baseball collectors. Since 1990, he has grabbed more than 3,800 baseballs at 44 different MLB stadiums. What makes this season of snagging so different, however, is that Zack will now be using his unparalleled skills to further the mission of youth baseball and softball non profit partner, Pitch In For Baseball www.pitchinforbaseball.org.
Zack’s plan is simple. He will visit various stadiums, snagging baseballs with his usual array of tricks and insights (he can ask for a ball in over 30 languages). Historically, he has been able to accumulate 200-300 balls per season, including balls from batting practice and live play. Individuals and corporate partners can pledge any amount of money for each ball he grabs during the 2009 season by visiting www.zackhample.com/charity.php.
Zack’s goal for the season is to raise at least $50,000. That translates to 1,000 supporters donating 25 cents for a projected 200 balls snagged. Of course, Zack hopes more than 1,000 supporters join the “Sultan of Snag” and he also hopes to reel in more than 200 balls.
“I love baseball and I love kids,” says Zack. “Getting to snag baseballs for a charity that combines both is a dream come true. I can’t wait for Opening Day!”
Zack will be opening the season with a trip to Toronto April 6-9 in pursuit of Gary Sheffield’s 500th career home run ball and any other ball he can grab during that series.
Pitch In For Baseball collects and redistributes new and “gently used” youth baseball equipment to needy children both here in the U.S. and around the world. “We are delighted to be able to bring Zack onto our team,” says David Rhode, Executive Director of Pitch In For Baseball. “His passion and the passion of his many followers provide a unique and fun way for baseball fans to support our charitable mission.”
About Zack Hample
Zack lives in New York City. He has written two booksHow to Snag Major League Baseballs (1999) and Watching Baseball Smarter (2007) — and has a third on the way (2011) about what else? Baseball!
About Pitch In For Baseball
Founded in 2005, Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB) is the central organization for the collection and redistribution of new and gently used youth baseball and softball equipment to underserved communities both in the U.S. and around the world. PIFB has distributed equipment and uniforms to more than 50 countries worldwide and more than 100 communities around the United States impacting over 60,000 children in need. Based outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, PIFB is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization. Contact Executive Director, David Rhode at email@example.com.