Results tagged ‘ Little League ’

The Red Cross of Baseball

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.

Pat Doherty, President of Oceanside American LL, carries a box to its new home

Pat Doherty, President of Oceanside American LL, carries a box to its new home

bags of uniforms will be worn once again

bags of uniforms will be worn once again

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).

Receiving a new glove takes the edge off a cold winter day

Receiving a new glove takes the edge off a cold winter day

Not hard to picture these guys on the field together in the next few weeks

Not hard to picture these guys on the field together in the next few weeks

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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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.

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.

Meeting Babe Ruth

by David Rhode

Yesterday I met Babe Ruth.  Not that Babe Ruth.

The Babe Ruth I spent the afternoon with was the fine team that runs Babe Ruth Baseball in Trenton, New Jersey.

Pitch In For Baseball has the pleasure of working with a number of outstanding organizations.  Little League International, USA Baseball, Major League Baseball’s RBI program, the Major League Baseball Players Association just to name a few.  In the last year or so, we have also begun to work very closely with Babe Ruth Baseball.

About 1 million kids play in Babe Ruth affiliated youth leagues annually in the U.S.  The leader of Babe Ruth Baseball is Steven Tellefsen.  Steven’s an down-to-earth guy with a big heart and a strong desire to give kids the chance to play ball.  Maybe that’s why he’s taken such an interest in Pitch In For Baseball.  We share the same goals and vision.

When separate floods struck the communities of Ludlow, VT and Minot, ND and in 2011 Steven asked us if there was anything we could do to help.  Our answer was an immediate “yes”.  He then wrote a heartfelt letter to the Babe Ruth leagues around the country and asked them to contribute $ and equipment to our organization to fuel our efforts to help these decimated communities.  The response was impressive to say the least.

This past month, we delivered our equipment to Vermont and in a month or so the equipment for Minot will be on its way.  It doesn’t take much to keep Tom Schoenfelder and I motivated at Pitch In For Baseball.  The fine folks of Ludlow paid us in smiles and maple syrup.  Not sure how or if Minot could ever top that.

So here’s to Babe Ruth.  The young people playing youth baseball with the Babe Ruth patch on their uniforms and the fine team at Babe Ruth Baseball in Trenton are making sure that name will live on forever.

Uganda baseball–continued success

Many of you may not know that the Little League team from Uganda that qualified for this past year’s Little League World Series, never made the trip to Williamsport due to trouble and challenges obtaining their visas.  They would have been the first team from Africa to ever take the field in Williamsport.  You certainly wouldn’t know that the team Uganda was scheduled to play (Canada) in the Little League World Series recently made a visit to Uganda to play this game.  For what it’s worth, in a game that was delayed almost six months, Uganda beat Canada 2-1.  The outcome itself is immaterial.  What mattered most was that the experience for both the Canadian and Ugandan kids was one they will never forget and for that we should all smile and say “job well done”.

Ugandan Little League players celebrate their 2-1 victory against the Canadian team from Langley, British Columbia. Felix "Abooki" Barugahare is hoisted on his teammates shoulders after scoring the winning run.

The success and passion for baseball in Uganda is truly special and inspiring.  There are many people who deserve credit and there are many folks who get recognized for their role in that success.  Jimmy Rollins and Derrek Lee made the recent trip to Uganda and helped bring much needed attention to the potential of the game in the region.  Ruth Hoffman and her organization Right to Play helped raise the funds that made the trip and playing of the exhibition game possible.  Jay Shapiro and his group are helping to tell the Uganda Baseball story in a beautiful documentary that will hopefully be released later this year.  Richard Stanley is the engine behind much of the growth of Little League in Uganda.  He has put up a tremendous amount of his own money and dedicated years of effort to see things reach this point.  All this is good stuff.

Funny thing is, they wouldn’t be playing much baseball without equipment and most of the equipment they are receiving is from Pitch In For Baseball.  We’ve helped the program in Uganda for the last 5 years.  It is one of the true success on our organization’s resume. While privately we are genuinely thanked from all parties for role we play, when push comes to shove, the attention and the financial resources fall onto other groups for the role they play.  This isn’t sour grapes, this is reality.  Equipment isn’t sexy.  Yet, in the thousands of projects we’ve completed in 7 years and the several hundred thousand kids we’ve impacted, the passion kids feel for baseball would be just a dream without the equipment to make that dream a reality.

Making dreams a reality is what Pitch In For Baseball specializes in.  We invite you to get involved with our organization so you can be part of the joy we help spread both here in the US and around the world.

Galveston’s Re Opening Day

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.

 


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