When Pirates chairman Bob Nutting heard about the disappointing dilemma facing the Baldwin (Pa.) High School softball team, he stepped up and told the girls to leave the driving to him.Well, to the driver of the charter bus Nutting offered to provide the team's transportation home from a tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. A trip for which the softball players had been raising money for months was jeopardized when the airline on which they had booked return flights -- Direct Air -- ceased operations on March 13. The 22-person travel squad was set to leave for the tournament on U.S. Airways, but with no way to return, the team faced having to cancel the journey.
A senior on the team, Karly Higgins, said in reports of the threatened trip, "This trip means everything to not just me, but to the whole team and the coaches. We've been looking forward to this trip every day since freshman year."That's all Nutting had to hear. Over the weekend, he contacted Baldwin High School's athletic director, Vince Sortino, and personally made the charter bus offer. "I heard of the team's dilemma and felt compelled to ensure their trip would not be canceled after all of the hard work that was put in by the school, students and families to raise the necessary funds," Nutting said. "I am pleased we were able to help in this case, and I hope that they have a wonderful trip and a successful tournament and season. "While these circumstances might garner media attention, making a meaningful impact in our community is something we strive to do every day. Last year alone, the Pirates and Pirates Charities directly supported more than 3,000 community organizations in their efforts to make a difference in our community." Direct Air, which had run out of capital for fuel and may be headed into bankruptcy, has declared that it may take a month for ticketed passengers to receive refunds. The Baldwin team had paid for everything up front and stood to lose it all, because costs such as hotel rooms and tournament entry fees were nonrefundable. Cheri Young, the secretary for the softball team's booster club, had said, "Just a ride home on Sunday, March 25, is all we want." Nutting gave them the wheels and, he hopes, an unforgettable time.
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.