Pirates Community Commitment Program
In 2008, the Pittsburgh Pirates implemented a player initiative called the "Pirates Community Commitment Program", which will help players at all levels in the Pirates system increase awareness of their position within the community. The goal of the program, unlike any other in Major League Baseball, is to help players better understand the personal and professional growth opportunities associated with community service and how they are viewed as role models and potential leaders. This program encourages players throughout the Pirates' system to emulate Roberto Clemente's legacy of community service.
As part of the program, consistent player community service guidelines have been developed and distributed to all Pirates affiliates. Within the guidelines is information about potential non-profit matches and possible player activities, including involvement with local Boys & Girls Clubs, RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) programs, school visits, hospital visits and fundraising opportunities. Although the guidelines are organizational, they will have the flexibility to adapt to each affiliate's market, which includes rookie level Bradenton, short season State College, Low-A Charleston, High-A Bradenton, Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis as well as Pirates Dominican Summer League in the Dominican Republic.
During the inaugural season of the West Virginia Black Bears, all the players participated in the program. They attended events in the community including:
1. Children's Baseball Camp at Monongalia County Ballpark
2. Miracle League Baseball, which was designed to help people with special needs play the game of baseball
3. A summer reading program where the players read to children in the community
4. Visiting kids in the WVU Children's Hospital
Near the conclusion of each affiliate's regular season, the Pirates will present one player from each affiliate with the "Pirates Community Commitment Award" in recognition of his commitment to his community and the program. The Pirates will fly each award winner to Pittsburgh to receive the award as part of a special on-field ceremony at PNC Park that will also include the presenting of the team's annual Roberto Clemente Award to the Pirates Major League Player selected for his character and charitable contributions to his community.
The winner of the 2015 Pirates Community Commitment Award for the Black Bears was Erik Forgione.
Erik could not make it to PNC Park for Roberto Clemente Day, so Black Bears Business Manager Jackie Rigleman went to the game, and accepted the award on his behalf.