by David Rhode
Bryan Donaldson, Senior Director of Community Relations for the Minnesota Twins, recently described Pitch In For Baseball as the Red Cross of Baseball. It put a smile on my face because we take great pride in helping youth baseball communities in their times of greatest need.
On Wednesday, February 13 we really did feel like the Red Cross of Baseball. That day, our operations manager, Tom Schoenfelder, drove a truck full of gear and uniforms from Harleysville, PA to Long Island, NY to meet the smiling and warm faces of the volunteers and children of Oceanside and Island Park Little Leagues. Together, he and I offloaded boxes, Red Cross style into the arms of the league administrators and parents whose leagues lost everything in Hurricane Sandy.
When you drive up to both field complexes, you are immediately struck by one thing…the water is REALLY close. At Oceanside, the water is about 10 feet behind the outfield fence forming their own youth baseball version of McCovey Cove. Great when a kid hits a homer, bad when a Hurricane and rising tides hits your town. At Island Park, the same scene exists…water creating a scenic backdrop in the near distance toward right field. Except on October 29, 2012 those waters got a lot closer. In fact over 5 feet of water covered their entire field complex and filled their equipment sheds.
But this past Wednesday was a different story, a story of hope and renewal. Many of these families are still not back into their homes. But on this day, they could feel a sense of comfort at least knowing that their children would be able to take the fields this spring when Little League season begins. Their smiling faces tell the real story of the day.
Pitch In For Baseball’s President, former MLB all-star Roy Smalley III, puts it this way, “as communities get on their feet it’s important to restore a sense of normalcy and nothing is more normal than youngsters taking the baseball fields in the Spring. We hope helping replacing some of the baseball equipment that was lost will allow these people to focus upon rebuilding their lives.”
Oceanside and Island Park represent the first chapter of an evolving story. Over the next few weeks, we will have the privilege to deliver much needed equipment and uniforms to Bayonne, Bayshore, North Merrick, Rockaway and East Rockaway. They all share a similar story in regards to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. They all share a deep gratitude for the donations they are about to receive.
We’d like to take full credit for the items they receive, but in truth Pitch In For Baseball is merely the product of the generous donations that we receive. Kids doing Bar Mitzvah projects, leagues making equipment and financial donations, manufacturers sending things our way. They all add up and they enable us to respond when called up. Do we respond like the Red Cross…I guess so. Unlike the Red Cross, however, we deliver joy and we’re ok with that.
For those want to learn more please visit http://www.pitchinforbaseball.org/html/. We’d love for you to join our team. Maybe you want to start and equipment collection in your community or make a financial contribution to help out our Sandy Relief initiative. You could also text “give gloves” to 80088 to donate $10 (normal text messaging rates apply).