About this Season
Despite all my marketing attempts, I was unable to solicit any first pitch opportunities for the PFA tour during the off season. Some teams said “no” while
others said “maybe” and others never returned multiple voicemail messages. So it looked like the PFA 2011 season was a no-show.
Yet I ended up with four pitch opportunities. So please allow me to give you a behind-the-scenes tour and deliver a shout-out to the people who made this
season a reality.
I lobbied for a first pitch invitation from the Los Angeles Dodgers for the last two seasons, but was turned down both times. Well, I met Elliot Karathanasis,
a lawyer from L.A., during the off-season and told him about the tour. He has a friend of a friend of a friend who is related to the family that owns the
Dodgers. And after a few well-placed e-mails on my behalf I received not only an invitation from the team, but was asked what date I would prefer.
So thanks Elliot for making my Dodger debut possible… and for being in the stands to watch me throw a strike!
Also during the off-season I met the folks at the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) here in San Diego. Their goal is, “to provide opportunities and
support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics.” (Learn more at: www.
Part of their vision, much like my vision for the tour, is, “to reach out to the physically
challenged community by providing inspiration and awareness.” After reading this on their website, I knew we’d be a perfect fit.
I met with Virginia Tinley, CAF’s executive director, and briefed her on the tour. She then passed my information along to David Samson, a member of the
CAF board of directors… who is also president of the Florida Marlins. David picked up the phone and spoke with a few of his colleagues across the
country on my behalf. Within days I had pitch invitations from the Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Houston Astros. He also tried to hook
me up with two other teams, but their schedules were booked for the season.
So thanks Virginia for introducing my efforts to David.
And David, thank you so very much for your support of the PFA tour throughout the season.
Without Elliot, Virginia, and David, my 2011 season wouldn’t exist. Thank you for your kindness.
My final pitch for the 2011 season is scheduled for Tuesday, August when the Houston Astros play the Pittsburgh Pirates in Houston. But before then, I
get my second chance at a pitch in Cincinnati at a Reds game.
Unfortunately I never completed my blog from last season, so you don’t know my tale from Cincinnati and other cities. Sadly my pitch in Cincy was a ball,
just outside, where it bounced next to the plate. But the pitch was, by far, the least important moment of the day.
I solicited my pitch invitation through the Reds front office and they scheduled my pitch for the team’s Disability Awareness Day celebration. The
festivities that day were sponsored by the local Mass Mutual (MM) office. Mass Mutual is a nationwide corporation that deals with Insurance, retirement,
and financial planning services.
The Red’s rep introduced me to the MM group before the game and I spent the whole day with them talking with employees, clients, and their families. The
next morning I travelled to the local MM office and presented an abbreviated “No Hands – No Arms – No Problem!” presentation during their regional sales
They liked me so much that they invited me back to their Disability Awareness Day celebration this summer at the Great American Ballpark (home of the
Reds). In addition to a 1-hour presentation to their staff (Friday, August 26), they also hooked me up throw out the first pitch that weekend before the
Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals game (Sunday, August 28).
So this is my first official “do-over” and hopefully I can replace my previous “ball” with a “strike”. More important, I get to spend time with a great group of
people who are very dedicated to their support of disability awareness issues.
By season’s end I will have thrown at 14 MLB ballparks. I can only hope that there are more good folk like Elliot, Virginia, and David out there that can help
me get my foot in the door with the remaining 16 ball clubs.
For now I’m between road trips. I plan to get back to the field and get some practice pitching in today. August 28 will be here in the blink of an eye.
|Thanks for your on-going support of the Pitch for Awareness national tour!