Founded in 2005, PIFBS’ very first projects were with two Little League programs in Biloxi, Mississippi that lost everything during Hurricane Katrina. We helped rebuild dozens of leagues across the Gulf Coast, giving hundreds of children the chance to escape the loss and sadness through baseball. Disaster relief programs are ingrained into Pitch In For Baseball & Softball’s fabric and continue to be our most rewarding and impactful efforts. Baseball and softball is an effective tool for emotional therapy, giving children a chance to be kids while bringing communities together and providing some temporary relief for parents and caregivers. Over the past 12+ years, we have helped hundreds of leagues and thousands of children get back on the field following a natural disaster. We have seen firsthand the impact the game has on children and believe in its ability to restore a sense of normalcy in times of tragedy.
In August 2017, the Atlantic Ocean saw some of the worst hurricanes in history. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria slammed into islands in the Caribbean and the southeastern part of the United States leaving in their paths massive destruction and flooding. One of the islands that was hit the hardest was Puerto Rico. In addition to the island being left without power for months and people being displaced from their homes, baseball and softball fields and equipment were wiped away with the storm. This was particularly devastating for the people and children of Puerto Rico who hold the games of baseball and softball so near and dear to their heats. Deeply woven into the fabric of the culture in Puerto Rico, baseball and softball give kids an opportunity to not only learn the game, but to experience all of the life lessons that come along with it. It was important to us here at Pitch In For Baseball & Softball to ensure that the children of Puerto Rico could get back on the field again as quickly as possible to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives and to help them begin healing through baseball.
Following Hurricane Maria, Pitch In For Baseball & Softball reached out to partners to offer assistance and begin to gather information to assess the need. We found that more than 10,000 children who were previously registered in an organized baseball/softball program, with the majority playing on a Little League team. Despite the fact that much of the country did not have electricity and Hurricane Maria destroyed most fields leaving in its wake mud and grass, there was a clear determination to start playing ball and “get back to normal” as soon as possible. Baseball truly is the heart of the Puerto Rican people and a life without it is unfathomable. We wanted to help keep that heart beating, traditions alive, and to help the children of Puerto Rico heal through baseball.
With more than 10,000 kids playing baseball and softball in Puerto Rico, we knew that we would need lots of financial resources and dependable partners to help kids get back on the field. For a project of this size, we knew we would need considerable resources and raised approximately $100,000 to help as many of the leagues in Puerto Rico get back on the field.
With the help of several of our partners including Wilson Sporting Goods, Puerto Rico sporting goods retailer Deportes Salvador Colom, and Under Armour, PIFBS and a team of Little League volunteers packed 175 baseball/softball team kits. We were able to help rebuild 100% of the softball teams on the island. Each team kit included a team bag packed with gloves, helmets, bats, catcher’s gear, and baseballs/softballs In addition to the team kits, each league was presented with enough pants and arm sleeves for each child.
Organizationally, this was one of the most rewarding projects we have completed and certainly the single largest project in the history of Pitch In For Baseball & Softball. We are so grateful to our partners Little League International, Wilson Sporting Goods, Easton Sporting Goods, Franklin, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Deportes Salvador Colom for helping make it possible.