On what was a beautiful Sunday morning on June 24, the Pirates and Pirates Charities welcomed more than 200 women for the Pitch for Hope Women's Baseball Clinic, a skills workshop that took place at PNC Park. Pirates Charities partnered with A Glimmer of Hope, the Women's Initiative at Eckert Seamans, Highmark, Pittsburgh Brewing, ILORI and Rue 21 on this fun and informative initiative.
This year's event raised $23,000 with that total going to support A Glimmer of Hope -- a Pittsburgh-based organization that funds the only under-40 breast cancer research study in the country -- and the Allegheny General Hospital Breast Center. The baseball clinic with Pirates players and coaches gave participants the opportunity to learn fundamentals of pitching, hitting and fielding as they visited workshop stations set up around the field.
"This has become an extremely popular event as it is a great opportunity for women in our community to have a unique experience on the field at PNC Park while raising needed funds for breast cancer research," said Patty Paytas, the Pirates' Vice President of Community and Public Affairs.
As the sun came up over the scoreboard that morning, the women stretched and ran on the outfield grass at PNC Park to get ready for two hours of baseball instruction. They later learned the fundamentals of throwing from Pitching Coach Ray Searage and took part in fielding drills with First Base Coach Luis Silverio.
In the dugout session, the women were able to sit on the bench and learn what it's like to be there during a game from first baseman Matt Hague and Bench Coach Jeff Banister, who took the time to answer questions and provide insight into big league routines. The women also were given the chance to take batting practice in the indoor batting cages, and Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle and his wife Karla went from station to station laughing and mingling with the participants. Infielder Jordy Mercer and pitchers A.J. Burnett and Jason Grilli were also on hand.
Following the baseball-filled early part of the day, everyone involved was treated to a wonderful catered brunch on the Pirates Deck in left field and each person received a ticket to the game against the Detroit Tigers that day as well as a commemorative t-shirt.
"I think the women are always surprised by how much they're able to do during this event and how much time our players and coaches spend teaching," Paytas said. "The turnout for this year's event was beyond expectations as everyone had a great time learning baseball and spending the day together at PNC Park."