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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2013 > January-April > Let’s Play: Pitch In For Baseball Strives to ‘Re-fit’ Every Local Little League Decimated by Hurricane Sandy

Let’s Play: Pitch In For Baseball Strives to ‘Re-fit’ Every Local Little League Decimated by Hurricane Sandy

Let’s Play: Pitch In For Baseball Strives to ‘Re-fit’ Every Local Little League Decimated by Hurricane Sandy

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In late October 2012, “Superstorm Sandy” slammed the Eastern seaboard of the United States, devastating communities, large and small, from the Carolinas to Maine. Many Little Leagues were in the damage path of one of the most devastating storms the U.S has ever experienced.



In the wake of this tragic natural disaster, Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB) has been there for Little Leagues as they begin to recover and look toward the 2013 season.

“Damage caused by the storm was massive and shook the foundations of many communities on the East coast,” Dan Velte, Director of League Development and Affiliation for Little League International, said. “Little League is a cornerstone of many of those neighborhoods, and through a coordinated call to action from Little League International and assistance from Pitch In For Baseball, several of the leagues have Little League baseball and Little League softball to look forward to this spring.”

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Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB) has spent the past several weeks driving to areas impacted by Superstorm Sandy. Using Little League International’s box truck, PIFB has traveled hundreds of miles to deliver shipments of new equipment to several Little Leagues devastated by  October 2012’s nature disaster. Bayshore Little League (BLL) in Union Beach, N.J. was among the leagues to apply for equipment from PIFB. Pat Harrigan, left, BLL League President, and Tom Schoenfelder, Operations Manager from Pitch In For Baseball, take a break from unloading equipment to pose for this picture.

Since 2005, Little League Baseball and Softball has partnered with PIFB, a non-profit youth baseball and softball charity that coordinates the collection and redistribution of new or “gently used” baseball and softball uniforms and equipment to programs and communities all around the U.S. and the world.

“We recognize that baseball and softball are important in the healing process,” David Rhode, Pitch In For Baseball’s Executive Director, said. “We revel in the fact that baseball and softball are just games, but they can be so much more than that. Playing baseball is a sign that local leagues are moving toward a return to normalcy, and with the games comes the sense of hope and optimism.”

Several estimates predict that Sandy, a Category 3 hurricane at its peak intensity, caused more than $20 billion in property damage and $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, making it one of the costliest natural disasters on record in the United States.



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Little Leagues on Long Island, N.Y., the five boroughs of New York City, and the Jersey Shore have received boxes of baseball and softball  playing equipment and uniforms from PIFB. Pictured are a group of Little Leaguers from Long Island Little League. David Rhode, Executive Director of Pitch In For baseball (Second from the left in the back row) and his staff have traveled more than 1,200 miles in recent weeks delivering equipment to leagues in need.

“To hear the dramatic reports, see the amazing images and know it was happening only a few miles away made it more personal,” Mr. Rhode said. “We recognized early on that we would need to change our approach for this collection and redistribution project. The Hurricane Sandy Relief effort marks the first time we have delivered equipment directly to leagues in need.”

Throughout the world, Pitch In For Baseball has assisted local Little Leagues replenish playing equipment that has been lost or destroyed as a result of a natural disaster; or provided equipment to leagues in need. Located in Harleysville, Pa., near Philadelphia, PIFB typically accepts equipment and financial donations through the mail and ships packages using the same method.

“Almost immediately, local Little Leagues from different parts of the country reached out on their own to offer support, and Little League International also encouraged leagues, through an e-mail campaign, to donate equipment or make financial contributions to the relief effort,” Mr. Velte said. “The emotional connection between leagues, and the remarkable generosity that has followed, are real world reminders of how Little League binds communities together.”

Understanding the scope and scale of the destruction caused by Sandy, Mr. Rhode and his colleagues at PIFB quickly moved to review applications and establish a distribution plan.

“We were processing applications one day after the storm and have not stopped,” Mr. Rhode said. “We get right to the details, so we can get a clear picture of the children who will be using equipment.  We want each league to get exactly what it needs.

“Almost every league we’ve visited lost everything in the storm,” Mr. Rhode said.” In general, we provided each league with baseballs, softballs, catcher’s gear for baseball and softball, bats, batting helmets, batting tees, gloves and instructional DVDs. We also provided cleats, uniforms sets and uniform pants to the leagues that requested those items.”

More than 5,500 children participate in the 13 Little Leagues serviced by PIFB’s donations. The estimated value of the donated playing equipment is expected to be in excess of $200,000. Among the Little Leagues receiving the donations were several on Long Island and Staten Island, N.Y., as well as leagues in New Jersey.

Donations have come in daily and gone out daily. Local leagues have mailed equipment, and many have simply made monetary donations to help offset the costs of delivery.

 

Little League Baseball and Softball has made a financial donation in support of the distribution and delivery efforts, and also has provided use of a 15-foot box truck for hauling the equipment to leagues. In the past few weeks, the Little League box truck, stocked with equipment from PIFB, has traveled more than 1,200 miles with several more trips scheduled in the coming weeks.

The goal according to Mr. Rhode is to get as many leagues in the East “re-fit” with equipment by the start by the first practice, but more realistically, all leagues will be served by the beginning of the regular season. There is always a concern that there will not be enough equipment to fulfill all of the requests, but Mr. Rhode is confident that if a promise is made, PIFB will deliver …in this instance, literally.



“We never make promises we can’t keep,” Mr. Rhode said. “ In the history of Pitch In For Baseball, when it looks like we will run out of something the good karma has equipment show up at our front door. The Sandy relief effort is by far the biggest project we have ever done.

“People who care about baseball, and understand our organization, appreciate that we do this well,” he said. “All we are trying to do is to get children back on the field.”

Softball also is part of PIFB. Playing equipment for softball or baseball that is in “gently-used” condition is welcome and encouraged.

Anyone can make a $10 donation to PIFB by texting “give gloves” to 80088. Standard text message rates apply.

To donate equipment, all deliveries are to be mailed to:

Pitch In For Baseball

1541 Gehman Road

Harleysville, PA 19438

 

For more information and details on equipment and financial donations to Pitch In For Baseball, contact Mr. Rhode, at:

Office phone: 267-263-40659

Mobile phone: 215-479-5293

Email: drhode@pitchinforbaseball.org

Web: www.pitchinforbaseball.org




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Since 2005, Little League Baseball and Softball has partnered with PIFB, a non-profit youth baseball and softball charity that coordinates the collection and redistribution of new or “gently used” baseball and softball uniforms and equipment to programs and communities all around the U.S. and the world. The Hurricane Sandy Relief effort was a collaboration between (PIFB) and Little League International.PIFBwarehouse500px