Moosic, Pa. - It's more than numbers. It's more than hours or dollars. It's human. It's real. It's one of life's most paradoxical, yet overwhelming true truths. An intangible concept, an experience really, that resounds with a firmness greater than Montage Mountain herself. It is better to give than to receive. Year one of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) and the new PNC Field afforded the new-look franchise and the good folks of NEPA to get to know each other once more through more than just baseball. And the giving? Well, it sure felt good.
Below is a quick checklist of the highlight totals in 2013:
Front office staff hours volunteered: 890.5
Player hours volunteered: 202.5
Mascot appearances: 130
Donations: $24,044 (tickets/merchandise/autographed memorabilia)
Hurl the Pearl donation (Boys & Girls Club): $12,092
Allied Health Services donation: $16,000
Total donation including monetary value of volunteered hours from team/staff, all monetary donations and in-kind donations: $217,737
"The sum totals sound good, but what sticks with me are the individual moments," said RailRiders president/GM Rob Crain. "I got more goosebumps from seeing the impact of the efforts spearheaded by our staff and community relations manager Rachel Mark than I've had at any other point in my life. It was a very good year."
The Community Organization of the Night program made its debut this season. Each of the team's 72 home games spotlighted a local non-profit/civic organization. That CON had the opportunity to spread its message to every guest through a pre-game on-field interview, a ceremonial first pitch, an on-air radio interview and a concourse table display.
The RailRiders' Military Appreciation Program was implemented this season to show the team's support of our nation's active and retired military. The serviceperson and his/her family were honored. Activities included complimentary game tickets, a pre-game on-field interview and a ceremonial first pitch.
SWB's patriotic pride continued with another new tip of the cap, Setting A Seat Aside. To honor men and women affiliated with our nation's military whom could not be at PNC Field, one significant seat (section 13, row 15, seat one) will forever remain empty and unsold.
A standard from previous years got a big boost as the Adopt-A-Field Program upped the number of local fields renovated to four. Front office staff and grounds crew members combined to give the area little league/softball fields a big league facelift. Staffers spent the entire day at each park cutting the infield, rebuilding pitching mounds, fertilizing/mowing grass, cleaning dugouts and more. The fields were chosen through a contest on the team's Facebook page with representatives of local leagues posting pictures of their field and describing its renovation needs. The four photos that received the most "likes" on Facebook were the lucky winners (Avoca/Dupont Little League; South Scranton Little League; Staback Park; Marvine Dutch Gap).
As the top affiliate of the New York Yankees, the RailRiders proudly played their part in the organization's annual HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week effort. The week-long community outreach program's purpose is to touch as many lives as possible in your area. Members of the RailRiders' coaching staff, players and front office folks made their way throughout NEPA.
The week included a Children's Miracle Network Day at the Ballpark on July 7. Twin boys who have overcome the worst of health adversities spent time on the field with players during batting practice, stopped by the pre-game clubhouse, threw out ceremonial first pitches and spent the game in the owner's suite with friends and family. One day later, the RailRiders hosted a baseball game for the Lackawanna County Challenger Little League. LCCLL gives children with special needs the chance to participate in athletics. RailRiders coaches and players spent the entire game on the field, coaching and encouraging the boys and girls while helping them to bat, run and slide. A ballpark lunch followed. July 9 meant two surprise hospital visits to Moses Taylor and Geisinger in downtown Scranton. Patients interacted with the players while receiving giveaways, autographs and an overall fun time. The week concluded with players and front office staffers visiting the Boys & Girls Club of NEPA. The morning was spent playing baseball, billiards and computer games. The epic conclusion sported a dodgeball match between the RailRiders and the Boys & Girls club.
On Aug. 21, a tag-team food drive by the RailRiders and the Voluntary Action Center of NEPA sought out to stock as many food pantries in NEPA as possible. Fans received free game tickets in exchange for non-perishable food items. In addition to the food from fans, the RailRiders also presented the Voluntary Action Center with a check for $1,300 to assist with the fight against hunger in NEPA.
The RailRiders' 2014 season begins on Thursday, April 3 when the club kicks off a seven-game road trip at Syracuse against the Chiefs (Washington Nationals). The home slate commences a week later on Thursday, April 10 when the Chiefs visit PNC Field for a four-game series and homestand. For season ticket information, call (570) 969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.
- SWB RailRiders - All Aboard! -
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.