Bucs give back to community year-round

November 20th, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- It is no secret that Pittsburgh rallies around its sports teams. When you play Pittsburgh, it's said, you play the whole city. Last month, Pittsburgh's sports teams rallied to support their grieving city.

On Oct. 27, a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood during Shabbat morning services. Eleven people were killed and six more were injured, including four police officers, in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in United States history.

The city still mourns but stands united. The next day, all three professional sports franchises tweeted the same message: "Pittsburgh is #StrongerThanHate." The Penguins wore "Stronger Than Hate" patches, held a blood drive and raised money for donations. The Steelers observed a moment of silence at Heinz Field, and many players and staff attended the funeral for Cecil and David Rosenthal, brothers who were killed in the shooting.

The Pirates quietly did their part, too. Several representatives attended the city's rally for peace and unity at Point State Park, where Roberto Clemente Jr. was among the speakers. Chairman Bob Nutting reached out directly to Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers and Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert to offer immediate aid and long-term support.

The Pirates donated a total of $50,000 to three organizations following the tragic shooting: $25,000 to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, $12,500 to the city of Pittsburgh's Public Safety Support Trust Fund and $12,500 to the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union.

"As we continue to mourn for those lost in this indescribable tragedy, we must also continue to honor their memory and commit ourselves to building a kinder, more inclusive and more loving future," Nutting said. "Our community should take great pride in the fact that Pittsburgh is once again leading the country by demonstrating, at a time when we are so divided, how we can stand together as one; how we can build our community, not tear it down with violence; how we can show one another love, not hate."

The Pirates also intend to get involved on another level in the Squirrel Hill community. Although they have not yet finalized the details, they are working on a plan to support youth baseball and softball organizations that play near the Tree of Life synagogue.

Harrison family's generosity helps homeless

With the holiday season upon us, here is a look at some other ways the Pirates have made an impact in the community this offseason.

Fields for Kids

"Fields for Kids" is one of Pirates Charities' signature programs, offering financial support to improve local youth baseball/softball facilities. Since 2009, they have distributed 371 grants to youth baseball and softball organizations in the greater Pittsburgh region and near Bradenton, Fla., their Spring Training home.

The Pirates partnered with the New Castle Area School District, the Bus Stops Here Foundation and New Castle Area Police to open an indoor youth sports training facility called "The Rack." Pirates Charities awarded a $25,000 matching grant and took part in the grand opening ceremony on Nov. 3.

Nutting, team president Frank Coonelly, first baseman Josh Bell and right-hander were on hand at the massive training facility, which includes an area dedicated to baseball and two "Bucs Batting Cages." Open to all New Castle School District students to train for all sports, "The Rack" features full weightlifting and cardio areas along with a 60-yard stretch of turf called "Bettis Field."

Pat Minenock, the New Castle strength coach who manages the facility, had an idea for the 20,000-square-foot space and made a proposal to the school district. With help from the Pirates, Jerome Bettis' foundation and local police, Minenock's vision for "The Rack" became a reality.

Miracle League

On Oct. 24, the Pirates helped break ground on the new Miracle League of Moon Township at People's Park Miracle Field. Nutting, Coonelly and broadcaster Greg Brown visited the future Miracle League site, which will include a Miracle League field for children with special needs, a 9,500-square-foot custom playground and a fully accessible restroom facility when completed next summer. It will be the 10th Miracle League program supported by the Pirates and Pirates Charities, which contributed $150,000 toward the project.

Jamo making a difference

, the Pirates' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award this year, returned to Pittsburgh on Oct. 6 and fittingly reflected Clemente's charitable spirit at PNC Park.

Taillon, Pirates Charities and Lending Hearts hosted a carnival for children with cancer and their families. Taillon, Joe Musgrove and Chris Archer participated as they signed autographs, took swings with kids in the Bucs' batting cages and handed out the "Lending Hearts Blend" coffee created by Taillon and Pittsburgh's Commonplace Coffee Co.

Taillon, who returned from testicular cancer in 2017, has been involved in a number of initiatives with Lending Hearts, which provides emotional and social support to children and young adults with cancer.