Former Twins All-Star shortstop Roy Smalley generated lots of smiles at a donation event at Target Field on Monday. Thanks to the nonprofit Pitch In For Baseball, of which Smalley is president, and support from the Twins Community Fund, 19 Twin Cities schools' baseball and softball teams received new equipment for their approaching seasons.
Baseball and softball season is right around the corner, but the enthusiasm is often coupled with stress as many teams struggle to ensure that their players will have the equipment they need to play the game safely and successfully. As a result of the donations from Pitch In For Baseball and the Twins Community Fund, these local teams, and the youth they serve, will no longer have to worry.
Founded in 2005 and based out of Pennsylvania, Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB) is an organization that collects and purchases new and gently used baseball and softball gear. The gear is then redistributed to kids all over the world who long to play ball, but do not have the equipment to do so. PIFB specifically strives to serve underprivileged kids and those who have been affected by natural disasters so that every child has the opportunity to play baseball or softball regardless of their circumstances.
Smalley's connection with the Twins has led to collaboration between the Twins Community Fund and PIFB. The Community Fund provides support for the organization by collecting equipment, securing grants and initiating connections with Twin Cities schools that are in need of equipment.
Along with Smalley, PIFB founder and executive director David Rhode attended the Monday event, which was held at Target Field's Champions Club. Smalley and Rhode greeted coaches and players as they arrived to pick up their boxes of new equipment and gear. A total of 19 middle schools and high schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., were recipients of the donations. While waiting for everyone to arrive, Smalley mingled with the young players, talking to them about baseball and letting them try on his 1987 World Series ring.
As the event began, Smalley, Rhode and Twins president Dave St. Peter said a few words about PIFB's mission and collaboration with the Twins, and then the teams tore into their packages. Helmets, bats, shirts, bags, uniforms and more were uncovered. It felt like Christmas morning as boxes were flung and the new gear was tried on and tested out.
These local recipients are now a part of the more than 500,000 children that have been impacted by the donations from PIFB.