February 2012

We’ve come a long way, baby

by David Rhode

Tonight is a Pitch In For Baseball Board of Directors meeting.  If my math is close to correct, this will be our 43rd  such meeting since our inception.  Nothing magical about the number, it’s just that it gives me pause to think back to our very first meeting as an organization.

The date was September 20, 2005.  Unlike now when we actually can have meetings in our conference room of our office/warehouse, in those days we met around my dining room table.  My wife and kids and pets scattered.  I set out some food.  We had an agenda and off we went.

The start of anything is exciting.  As a group, we really had no idea what to expect when we “opened our doors” for business.  At the time we had just a concept and a name.  Pitch In For Baseball.  No website…no equipment…no money…just some friends and I trying to see if we could launch a baseball charity.

The backdrop of the meeting was that the country was going through a very emotional time.  Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had just hit the Gulf Coast region within the last month.  While the original focus of our organization was intended to be on international assistance, we knew immediately that our initial focus should be on getting kids in that region back on the field of play.

We set a goal to assist 3 programs in 2006.  We had no idea what that really meant since we hadn’t really defined what a donation would consist of, but 3 has always been my lucky number so 3 it was.  In reality, we accomplished much more, bringing much needed resources to 16 programs here in the US and around the world.  More than half that assistance went to communities in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida.

The growth over the last 6 years has been extremely rewarding.  We now work as partners with Little League International, USA Baseball, Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, Babe Ruth Baseball and the list goes on.  We’ve shipped equipment to over 70 countries worldwide and over 250 communities here in the United States.

We’ve reached some important conclusions during this time frame.

  1. Helping kids play baseball matters.
  2. Bringing joy to kids never gets old.
  3. We have a lot more work to do.

We invite you to join us in that effort.  Visit us at Pitch In For Baseball and join our team.  Our work is fun, it’s important and you can make a difference.

Not Your Regular Internship

by James Dailey & Dustin Pickert

As new interns here at Pitch In for Baseball, we expected to learn a lot , but we didn’t expect to be inspired. It happened when an average day at the office turned into an eye-opening experience. A man named Jim Tamarack from Northern New Jersey traveled  to the office to pick up their equipment that they were taking with them to Kenya. What started out for them as a vacation traveling through Africa, led to the creation of multiple baseball teams, that leaves them going back once a year to give more equipment and teach more kids the game of baseball. He explained to us how he collected equipment on a much smaller scale but has come to Pitch In For Baseball for assistance due to the unexpected growth of baseball in Kenya.

(from the left Dustin, Jim, James, Tom)

What caught our attention was their amazement of our facility and how large of a scale we work on. As they continued to talk of the things they accomplished in Africa, it made us realize that we were not just working in Harleysville,Pa. We realized that when they were thanking us for helping them.

As we have progressed into this internship, we have helped supply kids in Columbia with baseball equipment and kids in New York City. We have realized that as individuals we can make a small impact on making the world a better place for children.

Hall of Fame donation

by David Rhode

For those of you with an interest in collectibles, you should make your way to the Pitch In For Baseball warehouse here in Harleysville, Pennsylvania.  Among the 20,000 plus items on hand is a unique bin of baseballs.  There you will find that we have almost a thousand balls autographed with Hall of Fame signatures like Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams.  The slight problem with these signatures is that they are all fraudulent.

It seems that someone, somewhere thought they could replicate the signatures of famous ballplayers.  It also seems that somewhere along the way their plan got on the radar of the Feds and these balls got confiscated.  Bad news for them, good news for Pitch In For Baseball.

One day we got a call asking if we’d accept these otherwise pristine baseballs as long as we’d be willing to a) make sure the signatures got Sharpeed into oblivion and that b) the balls were shipped overseas.  Done and done.

When you work at a charity that donates equipment, you go through a lot of baseballs.

So now imagine a young child in Slovenia or Cameroon or Mexico having a nice catch with a Joe D “autographed” ball.  Kind of makes you smile.

Meeting a hero

by Tom Schoenfelder

Before working at Pitch In For Baseball, I never thought I’d get the opportunity to meet some of my idols growing up.  My first week on the job I was told I needed to call Zack Hample, ballhawk of all ballhawks and awesome author.  I remember as a twelve year old boy reading his book entitled How to Snag Major League Baseballs.  During that phone call I realized Zack was a normal guy…a normal guy that’s snagged 5,819 baseballs at Major League ballgames.

This past summer I had the pleasure of meeting Zack, along with his family, during a visit to our warehouse in Pennsylvania.  I was asked if I didn’t mind being on camera for a Korean documentary.  Of course I didn’t shy away from the limelight and relished the opportunity to have my 15 mins of fame in far away land.  Here is what ensued…

Zack is a unique person and the best at what he does.  If you do not already follow Zacks blog you are missing out.

My First Glove

by Roy Smalley III

“A glove, a child, a difference” is a perfect summation of our mission at Pitch In For Baseball.  I was asked recently if I could remember getting my first glove.  Remember?  It is a memory I will carry forever.  It was Spring Training in 1958 and I was 5 1/2 years old.  My dad, Roy Smalley Jr (I am Roy III) was with the Philadelphia Phillies.  My dad would take me to the ballpark every morning and I would hang around the dugout watching my heroes go through their workouts.  One day the great Hall of Famer-to-be, Robin Roberts came up to me with an old, worn glove of his, handed it to me and said, “Here young man.  I’d like you to have this.”  I know he meant it to be a souvenir–he even signed it.  But for me, it was my glove–one I would use until my dad bought me my first brand new one when I was 10.  It was ten years of growth too big for me and was too worn for Robin to use, but it was mine.  I took if everywhere, used it in Little League games and had it next to my pillow at night.  I am convinced that using that way-to-big-for-me glove helped develop my “hands” as a young shortstop.  When I did finally get that brand new Rawlings I couldn’t believe how easy catching a groundball was.

I know that very few kids will ever be lucky enough to be given a glove by a major leaguer.  I also know that there are far too many kids who will never be given a glove at all.  The point of my story is not where the glove comes from.  A kid getting a glove is a magical moment.  It is a moment of pure joy that will be relived for days and days to come in the child’s life.  Thank you for continuing to help us bring those moments to more and more kids.  There are so many more magical moments waiting to happen.

Roy Smalley III is the current Board President of Pitch In For Baseball

A Glove, A Child, A Difference

by David Rhode

The theme of this upcoming year at Pitch In For Baseball is “a glove, a child, a difference”.  Pitch In For Baseball is not a difficult concept to grasp.  We collect and redistribute equipment.  The result of that work is to create joy and positive outcomes in the lives of kids by giving them a chance to play a game that so many of us find so special.

At the heart of Pitch In For Baseball is the baseball glove.  It is the item, more than any other, which unlocks the door to the game.  So many of remember having a catch with a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, a friend.  In the days when breaking in a glove was part mad scientist and part urban legend, it was the glove that captured our imagination.

At Pitch In For Baseball, however, the glove is our real bottleneck, our nemesis.  We never have enough donated gloves to meet the needs of those requesting help.  It is the purchasing of new gloves that consumes a big piece of our annual budget.  It is frequently the only item we cannot fulfill to a recipient in the quantity they request.

So if you ever want to know what you can do to help Pitch In For Baseball, the answer is gloves.  Help us unlock the idea that gets more donated. Write us the check that lets us buy more.  The formula for making kids happy is not a mystery.  One more glove brings lasting joy to one more child and that is the difference we are seeking at Pitch In For Baseball.

Here’s to 2012, may it be our best ever!

Baseball weather

by Tom Schoenfelder

With the start of February it usually means two things… its cold outside but spring training right around the corner and I need to find a date for Valentines day.  Beautiful weather like today in the Philadelphia region makes me feel like digging up my old glove.  If you are anything like me, you have a basement full of dusty old equipment and boxes of participation trophies.

Pitch In For Baseball can help…with the equipment.  If your old gear has rounded third, find it a new home.  Go on our website to learn about how you can make a difference in some child’s life.

www.pitchinforbaseball.org