Waiting for the phone to ring

by David Rhode

The other day I was talking to someone about Pitch In For Baseball and I predicted that “I will get a phone call within 3 days from someone in Indiana who was impacted by the tornadoes”.  Sadly, that call came 1 hour later, not 3 days.

For those of you who have not been watching the news, much of the Midwest and specifically southern Indiana were devastated by tornadoes last Friday.  One town in particular that found itself in the way of mother nature’s wrath was Henryville, Indiana.  Henryville was in the news for the heroic efforts of Stephanie Decker.  She is brave mom who ended up losing her legs in the course of her efforts to save her children as her house literally caved in on top of her and her family.

Damage assessments are still be tallied.  The loss of life and property is more than 1 town should ever bear.

Pitch In For Baseball has been involved with a range of these scenarios in recent years.  It’s a “who’s who” of tragic images…New Orleans, Japan, Joplin to name a few.  And now Henryville.

Within each of these towns is a volunteer who has been thrust into the unsuspecting role of the person charged with figuring out what to do about getting kids in a devastated town back on the baseball field. The process starts with the big picture.  Who has been killed, hurt, lost their home?  What condition are our fields in?  Do we have any equipment left?  If so, can it be used?

In our experience the inner circle of the town’s youth baseball organization quickly concludes that these kids need baseball.  The need it soon and maybe more than ever.  And that’s when our phone rings.

So this week I’ve heard the stories and seen the images.  Even so, how can anyone say that they can imagine what it’s like.  Entire streets or neighborhoods simply gone.

Pitch In For Baseball is not the Red Cross or any of the many wonderful organizations that provide humanitarian need.  We help kids play baseball.  I’m torn between the thoughts of how trivial baseball can seem at a time like this and how vital it can be to the psyche of a child or a community.  When everything around you has literally been turned on its head, sometimes just playing a game or having a catch can be much-needed therapy for the mind, body and soul.

Our warehouse is simply nuts this time of year.  The first two weeks of March are our busiest two weeks on the calendar.  There are literally dozens of high school and youth programs who need equipment to launch their seasons.  We are an organization of two full time staff, and there is physically only so much that can get done in a day.

So today we began in earnest the process of getting equipment to Henryville.  It went to the top of our very long list.  We don’t have enough equipment for all of our recipients, so we also began the process of letting others know that we could use some help.  More equipment.  More financial support.  Our website’s homepage now tells the story of our desire and plans to assist the good people of Indiana.  Our donate now button could use some action.

For a kid from Philadelphia, it’s hard to admit that your favorite sports movie is Hoosiers and not Rocky.  But my thoughts for the next days and weeks will be on a different group of Hoosiers…the good people of Henryville, Indiana.

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