There aren’t many things that’ll get me out of bed early on a rainy Saturday morning, but yesterday was an exception. I drove out to East Rockaway, New York — a 25-mile trip that took an hour and a half with traffic — and made it just in time to witness something beautiful: a huge delivery of baseball equipment from Pitch In For Baseball to the local Little League that was devastated last year by Hurricane Sandy.
The delivery took place at a recreation center, and when I arrived, David Rhode (pictured below in the red jacket) happened to be standing outside:
He’s the director of the charity, and we’ve been working together since 2009. That’s when I first started raising money for him. Normally he ships equipment to communities all over the world, so this was a rare opportunity for me to witness the charity doing its thing.
Tom Schoenfelder, the Operations Manager for Pitch In For Baseball, was already inside the rec center:
He and I had met before, so after a brief hello, I started taking lots of photos. Here’s a shot of the mayor of East Rockaway — Francis T. Lenahan Jr. — being interviewed by the local news:
In the photo above, did you notice all those water bottles on the table on the left? Well, look how they were arranged:
The “ER” is for East Rockaway.
There was also a table with coffee and donuts, but thankfully, before I had a chance to stuff myself, one of the Little League officials made an announcement, and everyone gathered closer:
He basically said a few thank you’s and then encouraged everyone to head outside. Two minutes later, this was the scene:
That truck belongs to the national Little League organization; Pitch In For Baseball is borrowing it this month and using it to make more than a dozen deliveries to various communities.
As you can see, David and Tom climbed into the back of the truck and handed out LOTS of stuff to the kids and coaches. In the following photo, Tom is giving an equipment bag, and David is giving bases:
Here they are handing out helmets . . .
. . . which the kids brought inside and placed here:
Eventually I gave Tom a quick breather by taking over for him in the truck. Here’s a photo that shows me handing a box of stuff to the coaches . . .
. . . and here’s another photo that shows me looking for something else to grab:
It felt good to witness all of this, and it felt even better to actually get to help. Everyone was SO appreciative and friendly (including the mayor).
This was my view from the truck:
Once all the equipment had been unloaded and brought inside, one of the photographers organized several group shots. First it was David and Tom and the kids:
Then the mayor and a few other officials joined in.
Then the Little League directors got in the shot:
You’d never know it by looking at these photos — hell, I couldn’t even tell when I was there — but that rec center had been flooded with six feet of water and sewage, and as a result, all of the Little League’s baseball equipment had been destroyed. With Opening Day just around the corner, this delivery from Pitch In For Baseball came at the perfect time.
Here are some kids checking out their new helmets:
It all looked good to me:
The rain was picking up, but that didn’t stop these kids from posing for a photo with David and Tom:
Here I am with them:
Here’s a look at all the equipment that was delivered:
Here are some kids holding a Pitch In For Baseball banner . . .
. . . and checking out the catcher’s mitts:
Wilson Sporting Goods donated a whole box of brand new mitts:
They’re gonna need to be broken in, but hey, that’s a good problem for these kids to have.
Here’s a box of catcher’s gear — chest protectors and shin guards (or “leggings” as one of the non-baseball-savvy mothers humorously called them):
Here are some bats and equipment bags . . .
. . . and here are dozens of brand new baseballs:
Before heading out, I made sure to get a photo with this guy named Doug Drotman:
Not only is he doing PR for Pitch In For Baseball, but he’s a fellow Guilford College graduate. Most people that I meet haven’t even heard of Guilford, so meeting someone who actually went there (who was involved with sports) was cool.
Anyway, that’s pretty much it. Just wanted to share this with everyone and let it be known that I’ll be raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball. If you’d like to donate to my fundraiser, visit this page on my website and scroll down to where it says “Click here to pledge” in big letters. It’ll probably take less than 30 seconds from there. Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s a recent article on MLB.com about Roy Smalley working with Pitch In For Baseball to help Hurricane Sandy victims.