With the Pirates in New York on Thursday to begin a stretch of six games in seven days against the Mets and Yankees, nearly 70 members of the team’s front office participated in community service projects in Pittsburgh in conjunction with Major League Baseball’s 21st annual Roberto Clemente Day.
Each of the four pillars of Pirates Charities -- support for youth baseball and softball, mental health, cancer patients, and members of the military -- were represented with a project. Meanwhile, a fifth effort benefitted Pittsburgh’s Latino Community Center, in honor of Clemente Day and Hispanic Heritage Month.
Clemente, the legendary Hall of Fame outfielder, spent his entire 18-year big league career with the Pirates, and 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of his final season. The day held in his honor each year is always meaningful in Pittsburgh, and even more so this year.
“This is a special day for the Pirates and a special day all across baseball to celebrate the legacy of Roberto Clemente,” Pirates president Travis Williams said from Olympia Park on Mt. Washington, where he was part of a contingent refurbishing the baseball field. “He was a great man, and being able to carry on his community service legacy is something everyone in the Pirates organization rallies around. It’s important not only to celebrate his memory, but to go out into the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh and give back to those communities.”
The work done at Olympia Park included pulling weeds, resurfacing the infield, rebuilding the pitcher’s mound and the home plate area, and putting a fresh coat of paint on a large retaining wall located on the first-base side of the field.
While that was taking place, another group of Pirates employees visited the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Pa., in Lawrenceville. There, they painted a Clemente mural in the facility’s team room as part of a campaign to help raise mental health awareness.
Meanwhile, at PNC Park, Pirates employees put together boxes of cheer that included toys, activity books and other items in partnership with Jared Box. Those packages were then delivered to pediatric cancer patients at area hospitals, including Allegheny Health Network facilities in Wexford and Harmarville.
In addition, care packages -- which included gift cards and handwritten get-well messages -- were assembled and donated to the Friends of Fisher House for recovering military veterans and their families.
The Pirates' front office concluded its Clemente Day community service activities by purchasing groceries and other essentials that were needed to replenish the Latino Community Center’s food pantry. Those items plus toys, games and activity books for kids were then delivered to the center.
In years when the Pirates are playing in Pittsburgh at the time of Clemente Day, the players and coaches participate in the celebration’s community service projects. Even though the team was on the road this time around, there was no shortage of manpower to go out and represent the organization.
“We were blown away by the enthusiasm that our front office showed [in] wanting to participate in what we had going on today in honor of Roberto Clemente,” said Jacque Skowvron, the executive director of Pirates Charities. “Community service is an important part of being a member of the Pirates organization, whether you’re in the front office or on the baseball side. That’s instilled in all of us, and it showed with the turnout we had today.”
“We have this in our DNA as an organization,” added Williams. “Starting from the top with [chairman] Bob Nutting, we all want to give back. It’s about the lives that we can impact. That’s what matters most.”