"Looking back on 2012, I'm incredibly proud of the community endeavors our staff was able to accomplish in such a unique year," said the man who spearheaded those efforts, RailRiders community relations manager Ryan Beardsley. "It's my goal to make this organization one of the most community-minded professional sports teams in the nation; the programs and outreach we have planned for 2013 will be a great start in accomplishing that goal."
The prioritization of community relations is especially reflected in the highlights below:
- CHAMP, the team's official mascot, made 100 more appearances in 2012 than he did in 2011 for a total just under 350. All of those appearances were done free of charge meaning nearly $35,000 of free furry fun.
- The inaugural year for the now annual "Adopt-A-Field" program proved a huge success for the Moosic Little League and Kingston / Forty Fort Little League of Lackawanna and Luzerne County respectively.
- The "Tokach Takeover" program received national acclaim as a finalist for MiLB's Golden Bobblehead Award in the "Best Charity Promotion" category.
- Thousands of dollars plus more in hard goods were raised for tragedies. That included a partnership with the Red Cross to help Hurricane Sandy victims in nearby New Jersey and donations to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund/United Way to provide support services for the families affected by the Newtown, Conn shooting.
"Charity truly does begin at home," said RailRiders president and general manager, Rob Crain. "I love the game of baseball, but few things in this world fill your heart like the joy of giving. We are grateful for all that we have and plan on helping wherever and whenever we can for the great people of NEPA and beyond."
With the team once again calling PNC Field home in 2013, expect the squad's community efforts to increase in frequency and scope. A signature addition will be a Military Recognition Program with area veterans, active military and their families honored at each home game. E-mails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The RailRiders' 2013 season gets underway with the grand opening of a reconstructed PNC Field on April 4 when the defending IL champion Pawtucket Red Sox come to town for a rematch of their 2012 playoff clash with SWB. It will mark the first "Thirsty Thursday" promotion of the year with $1 beer specials and $1 Pepsi products along with a pre-game live band performance and post-game fireworks. Club seating, partial and full-season ticket plans are now available.