2013-02-08 / Sports

Pitching In For Rockaway

Pitch In For Baseball, a not-for-profit that collects and redistributes new and gently-used youth baseball/softball equipment to communities in need, is teaming with Little League to help replace the gloves, bats, cleats, helmets and baseballs that Rockaway’s children lost to superstorm Sandy.

Each year 700-800 boys and girls participate in Rockaway Little League. Others play baseball in CYO and/or BCAC programs. Some older children compete on high school baseball or softball teams.

On October 29 of last year, most of these players had their bats and gloves stored for the off season in basements and garages throughout Rockaway. Almost all of that gear was washed out into the Atlantic by Sandy or ended up in the Riis Park dump.

Replacing baseball equipment can be expensive, especially on top of costs Rockaway families are facing for home repair. Since December, Rockaway Little League has tried with limited success to get sporting good manufacturers (e.g. Easton, Hillerich & Bradsby, Mizuno, etc.) to step up to the plate and help us get our kids back on the field.

They also approached Little League Baseball and Softball for help.

Enter Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB), the central organization the national Little League organization partners with to assist local Little Leagues whose communities have been affected by a disaster.

PIFB Executive Director, David Rhode, spoke with Rockaway Little League board member Stu Mackoff to assure their support for as many Rockaway children as possible.

There are a lot of logistics to put in place for such a large operation. First, PIFB needs to know the scope of our loss. Rockaway Little League created a web-based survey for any Rockaway parent to complete (www.odgroup.com /rockawaylittle-league/sandy/).

Within hours more than 50 families replied. Many parents expressed gratitude. In typical Rockaway fashion, several made selfless requests such as, “Yes, I need help...but I don’t want to take from families who are struggling more than we are. Help them first.”

Perhaps the most poignant response came from a family that lost it’s home to a fire, “Just want to thank you ahead of time for your generosity and thoughtfulness. Just hearing about baseball and softball gives us thoughts of better times than where we are right now in our lives.”

Once the survey of needs is complete, PIFB will schedule distribution dates and locations with Rockaway Little League. Options that have been discussed include the RLL Awards Breakfast on February 24th at El Caribe and Opening Day on April 20 in Fort Tilden.

Check The Wave or the Rockaway Little League website (www.rockawaylittleleagueny.com) for updates.

Diamond Dust: Registration is open for the 2013 Rockaway Little League season, our 60th year. Registration fees have been reduced post-Sandy. If more help is needed, let them know. No child will be left in the stands due to financial challenges.

To register or purchase reduced price tickets to the postponed 2012 Awards Breakfast, go to www.rockawaylittleleagueny.com and click the link to the Rockaway Little League Online Registration Site.

Fort Tilden is still closed as the National Park Service recovers from Sandy’s impact throughout Gateway.

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