The Pirates' annual caravan will hit the road Tuesday morning with a local pit stop of tremendous benefit to some of the team's youngest fans.
With chairman Bob Nutting headlining a large contingent of club representatives, Pirates Charities will make a $200,000 presentation to The Children's Institute's Centers of Excellence.
The 11 a.m. presentation ceremony at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh, in Squirrel Hill, will be followed by a holiday party for institute patients and guests.
The Centers of Excellence is a focal point for the treatment and care of Prader-Willi Syndrome, as well as other conditions such as brain and spinal cord injuries and autism.
This is a very special cause for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who will be among club representatives participating in the occasion. His daughter, Madison, now 10, was diagnosed with the genetic disorder. The proximity of a national leader in the treatment of the condition influenced Hurdle to take the Bucs' job over other managerial offers presented to him in November 2010.
Joining Nutting and Hurdle at this event will be club president Frank Coonelly, Pirates players Andrew McCutchen and Jared Hughes, broadcasters Greg Brown and John Wehner, officials of media partners ROOT Sports and Trib Total Media and an assortment of other club front-office officials. President and CEO David Miles will represent The Children's Institute.
This occasion, which will feature arts and crafts and music to entertain Institute patients and staff, will send off the Pirates on their three-day, four-state tour to spread holiday cheer and anticipation of the 2013 baseball season.
Pirates players scheduled to take part in the caravan, in addition to McCutchen and Hughes, include Pedro Alvarez, Josh Harrison, Michael McKenry, Bryan Morris, Alex Presley, Gaby Sanchez, Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Justin Wilson. Coaches Jeff Banister, Nick Leyva and Ray Searage will join Hurdle.
The caravan route will include stops on the Pirates' Minor League map, in Double-A Altoona and Class A Charleston, W. Va. and Jamestown, N.Y., home of the club's new short-season Class A affiliate, the Jamestown Jammers.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.