Results tagged ‘ donated baseball equipment ’

One of a kind

by David Rhode

There are few times when we can say that someone is truly unique…a true one of kind person.  Pitch In For Baseball has the pleasure of associating with one such person.  You may have already heard of him.  His name is Zack Hample

A kid at heart hardly describes Zack’s enthusiasm for baseball.  Zack has been attending games his whole life, but that’s far from a unique story.  Zack snags baseballs at games and does so at a rate that is hard to believe.  Last season he snagged over a 1,000 batting practice, foul balls, home run balls and various other balls at Major League stadiums.  He has snagged just over 5,900 balls at 49 different parks in his lifetime including a streak of over 800 consecutive games with at least 1 ball. 

For the last 3 years, Zack has generously donated to Pitch In For Baseball by having folks pledge a certain amount for each ball he can grab during a season.  He’ll surpass $20,000 in donations by the end of this season.  You can join the team of folks helping in this fashion by registering here.

Moreover, Zack is an accomplished author of 3 baseball books.  They make a great read for any fan of the game.

As he appeared in Sports Illustrated

In this “me too” world, Zack has a number of followers and I daresy wanna bees.  But for those who’ve met him there is only 1 Zack Hample and I’m glad he’s our friend.

Back in the swing

by David Rhode

Opening Day is special everywhere.  But at least this year, maybe more so in the country of Japan.  On March 11, 2011 just a little over 1 year ago, a massive earthquake and tsunami struck this passionate baseball nation.

With the financial support of the Major League Baseball Players Trust, Pitch In For Baseball had the privilege of providing equipment to 40 school based and Little League programs.

Well as you can see from the pictures below, baseball in Japan is back as youth leagues participated in the annual right of spring known everywhere as Opening Day.  The pagentry of their ceremonies shows the respect they have for the game.  The joy and concentration on the faces of the kids is universal.

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Opening Day

by David Rhode

Opening Day in any youth league is a time of anticipation, fun, chaos and occasionally some baseball mixed in.  However for the community of Henryville, Indiana, the 2012 Opening Day ceremonies were a time of particular significance.  You see in this day and age of short attention spans the name Henryville, Indiana may not mean much to most people.  Therefore, let me take you back just 6 weeks to when this community was devastated by an EF4 tornado on March 2nd.

So for Henryville the idea that on April 14 they’d be gathering with smiles on their faces to kick off their baseball season would have seemed impossible.  Pitch In For Baseball, Louisville Slugger and countless other caring individuals provided equipment, financial support and manpower to help them get back on their feet.

I had the privilege along with fellow Pitch In For Baseball Board Member, John Yengo, of attending their Opening Day this past Saturday.  The kids were great.  We met “Spike” and “Big Poppi” and coaches and league administrators who through their efforts were able to give kids the chance to play ball.  The sentiments we heard echoed time and again on Saturday was how important it was to give both the kids and the community something that resembled normalcy even when things around them were anything but that.

With massive construction going on down the street at the school, Henryville is still a work in progress.  However if the spirit exhibited Saturday is any indication, I think there are many good days ahead.

For more pictures from Henryville’s Opening Day, visit the Pitch In For Baseball Facebook page. www.facebook.com/#!/PitchInForBaseball

And away it goes

by David Rhode

Less than 48 hours after we heard from the group in Henryville, Indiana 11 boxes are on their way to replace the equipment they lost in the tornadoes a week ago.  I think that represents the new gold standard for turnaround between request and shipment.

The equipment will run the gamut.  It will be gloves, baseballs, softballs, bats, batting helmets, equipment bags, cleats, pants, catcher’s gear.  The reason we can react so quickly is that we’ve received so many wonderful donations in the past.  That said, we are almost out of gloves and catcher’s gear and our supply of baseballs is getting low.  These are somewhat normal occurences for us at this time of the year.  March is a month where a lot more equipment goes out the door than comes in.

The equipment and uniforms we donate are our way to say “we hope things get better soon”.  What can you say to a group that has had its world turned upside town.  Friends or loved ones lost their loves or suffered terrible injuries.  Homes were destroyed or damaged. 

What we do know is that the kids in the Henryville Babe Ruth league will get back to practice next week and their Opening Day will go off as scheduled.

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.

The Pinkalicious rule

by David Rhode

When you have a 5 year old daughter, your world view is altered.  In my house, I now have to expand my horizons to things like dolls, make up, and anything associated with being a rock star.  You also have different books to read.  To be clear, my daughter loves dinosaurs and sharks, so she’s not strictly a girly girl.  One series we read is Pinkalicious. 

At Pitch In For Baseball, we apply the “Pinkalicious rule”.  For any of you who have read the books, there is a famous expression, “you get what you get and you don’t get upset”.  It’s what Pinkalicious’ mom says to our young heroine and basically it encourages her (and the rest of us) to appreciate what we have and what we’re given.

We would love to give every applicant all the equipment they request in exactly the quantity,color and configuration they request it.  But, we can only give away what get’s donated to us.  Hence the Pinkalicious rule.

Almost everyone we interact with “gets it”.  They know we are a leanly staffed and underresourced organization.  When we tell them we will do our best, we mean it.  Our results bear that out.  However, every once in a while we come across an applicant who has not read Pinkalicious a/k/a the Pitch In For Baseball bible.  So they get a touch cranky if we don’t have a certain shade of uniforms/socks/catcher’s gear.  They might want the baseballs to have a certain type of stamp on them to certify them for play in their league.  We’re not Baseball Express or Sports Authority, we’re Pitch In For Baseball.  Maybe we should get a few copies of Pinkalicious and keep them in stock and slip one into an order for a difficult customer.  Then when they call to ask why, we can let this important phrase go to work.

When Little League sneezes…

by David Rhode

You know that expression “when America sneezes, the world catches a cold”.  It often refers to the effect on the economy globally that can be felt when something of significance happens in the US.

The same can be said of organized youth baseball.  When Little League International sneezes, things happen in the world of youth baseball.  Today Little League sneezed, and Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB) is going to feel it…in a good way. 

As they’ve done in the past, Little League has asked their member leagues to make equipment donations benefitting Pitch In For Baseball.  This is a very generous thing for Little League to do given the size and scope of their network of leagues and volunteers.  For some reason, the letter they sent out today really hit home.  Our phone lines and email inboxes can attest to the positive impact that this request for assistance is having.  In the days and weeks to come we’ll receive catcher’s gear, uniforms, equipment bags, bats, balls, gloves, pitching machines, you name it.  And just in the nick of time.

In the past 48 hours, PIFB has received 11 new requests for assistance (that’s a new 2 day record).  That’s good news because we know the impact on the kids and communities will be huge.  That’s bad news because we only have so much equipment to go around.

That’s where the Little League request for help comes in. Today Little League programs from as far away as Washington, California, Texas, Virginia, and Massachusettes have contacted us to let us know that “help is on the way”. 

People have often asked me what is the key to Pitch In For Baseball’s success.  I can give you the long version or the short version answer.  The short version is the quality of our partners and Little League tops that list.  Little League believes deeply in our mission and has been with us from Day 1 to help us achieve our goals. 

Thanks Little League and good luck with that cold.

Lost and found

by David Rhode

You remember “lost and found”.  It’s the place your mom kept stopping by when you lost your glove or anything else of value.  Well Pitch In For Baseball LOVES lost and found.  Every youth league has one and there is a hidden treasure of baseball equipment in that pile waiting to find a new home.

If youth leagues did nothing but send us their lost and found than Pitch In For Baseball would need a bigger warehouse.  Today Robert Russell, the President of Oxford (PA) Little League  dropped off some goodies including their lost and found equipment.  Gloves, bats, batting helmets, you name it.

Next time you think of how your league can help PIFB, ask where your lost and found stuff is kept and if it would be ok to send it to us.

Donating to all fields

by Tom Schoenfelder

When an application comes in, it is always interesting to see where they are applying from.  We will get requests from areas as close as Philadelphia and as far away as the other side of the world in the Philippines.  Even though every program is different culturally and have different equipment needs, there is one commonality between them.  The dedicated individual applying for the equipment.

Be it a coach, league president, or volunteer, those who apply for the equipment care about their players.  They work tirelessly to make the season happen.  When the hurdle of needing equipment comes up, Pitch In For Baseball is happy to step up with the donation of equipment.

Robert White and PIFB Interns Dustin & Jim helping load equipment for the North Trenton Babe Ruth League

In the case of the North Trenton Babe Ruth league, in Trenton, NJ, that hard-working individual is Robert White. A year ago I had a phone conversation with Robert White after he applied for equipment.  What I heard on the other side of the phone was a man who had a passion for the kids in his league playing baseball.  We were able to help with a variety of equipment his league needed.  Over the past year it was encouraging to hear from him the impact the equipment made on his league.

In the 2012 their mission of the North Trenton league has not changed.  They continue to provide a safe place for children to learn and play baseball.  When they applied for equipment this year, I knew that this years donation will again help kids enjoy the game I loved to play growing up.

A league of their own

by David Rhode

Tomorrow 2 pallets of equipment will leave our warehouse and begin the journey to Colombia, South America.  This marks the 4th such time we’ve provided assistance to the Little League programs in Colombia and nothing makes us prouder.

If you watch enough movies or tv, you might know about towns like Medellin or Cartegena.  They are towns where drugs and violence rule the day.  Lucky for the kids who live there, Ana Florencia Pineros is helping to change that.  Ana is the Little League country manager in Colombia.  She’s as committed a volunteer as you could find in the Little League family and she is helping to make sure kids in towns thoughout her country have positive and safe opportunities like baseball in their lives. 

Ana has personally sponsored several of the shipments of equipment benefitting the kids in Colombia.  One particular success story that Ana shared with us related to the region of Guajira.  The Indian population who lives there face extreme poverty. The concept of organized sports is well beyond their means.  The donations Pitch In For Baseball have provided now make the dream of baseball a reality in this region.  Likewise, girls in other parts of Colombia who used to rely on cardboard “gloves” now have real mitts and and bats to start a league of their own.

The history of baseball in Colombia is not a rich one.  A few Major League players of note have come from this beautiful country better known for coffee than curve balls.  That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if a PIFB alum from Colombia made their way onto the baseball big stage in the future.  And if that happens, you’ll know that Ana and your friends at Pitch In For Baseball will be smiling.