In 2008, the Pittsburgh Pirates implemented a player initiative called the "Pirates Community Commitment Program", which will help players at all levels in the Pirates system 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 associated with community service and how they are viewed as role models and potential leaders.
This program encourages players throughout the Pirates' system to emulate Roberto Clemente's legacy of community service. Throughout the 2010 season, nearly 250 players in the Pirates' minor league system participated in this program, and more than 6,000 hours of community service have been performed since the start of the program three seasons ago. Each player has completed a minimum of 10 hours of community service in their respective affiliate locations during this season.
Near the conclusion of each affiliate's regular season, the Pirates will present one player from each affiliate with the "Pirates Community Commitment Award" in recognition of his commitment to his community and the program. The Pirates will fly each award winner to Pittsburgh to receive the award as part of a special on-field ceremony at PNC Park that will also include the presenting of the team's annual Roberto Clemente Award to the Pirates Major League Player selected for his character and charitable contributions to his community.
"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 Director of Player Development 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. Within the guidelines is 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, which includes rookie level Bradenton, short season State College, Low-A Charleston, High-A Bradenton, Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis as well as Pirates Dominican Summer League in the Dominican Republic.
Periodically throughout the season, players will be asked for feedback on how community involvement has helped them develop as a person and a player. Those lessons learned will be reinforced by Pirates coaches and front office personnel.