In 2008, the Pittsburgh Pirates implemented a player initiative called the "Pirates Community Commitment Program", which helps players at all levels in the Pirates ball club 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 linked to community service, as they are seen as role models or potential leaders.
Near the conclusion of each affiliate's regular season, the Pirates will present one player from each affiliate with the "Pirates Community Commitment Award" recognizing their commitment to their community and the program. Honorees travel to Pittsburgh, where they are recognized in a special pregame on-field ceremony held on Clemente Day.
"While there have been many displays of community service by Pirates players throughout the years, the importance of this program is to help our Minor League players develop a passion for connecting with the community," said Pirates Assistant General Manager Kyle Stark. "The annual Major League Baseball award for community service is named after the Pirates great Roberto Clemente; therefore, every player in the Pirates organization should feel a larger responsibility to emulate his passion by making a positive impact on the community in which they are a part."
As part of the program, consistent player community service guidelines have been developed and distributed to all Pirates affiliates. Guidelines include 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.
More than 23,500 hours of community service have been performed by Pirates players throughout the organization since the program was first implemented. Each player has completed a minimum of 10 hours of community service in their respective affiliate's community during this season.
During the 2016 season alone, over 3000 hours of community service were recorded throughout the Pirates organization.
The Pirates minor league players receiving the 2016 PCCP awards were:
Throughout the season, players are periodically asked for feedback on how community involvement has helped them develop as a person and a player. Their lessons learned are then reinforced by Pirates coaches and front office personnel.