Edina resident Roy Smalley, a 13-season major league baseball player (including nine seasons with the Minnesota Twins), hasn’t completely left the game. The analyst for Twins broadcasts on Fox Sports North has been working hard to keep kids off the street and on the field with Pitch in for Baseball (PIFB).
PIFB’s founder and executive director, David Rhode, first contacted Smalley’s father, Roy Frederick Smalley Jr., a famous pro shortstop. “My dad [who grew up in the Great Depression] talked about how he wouldn’t have been a baseball player had his father not found ways for him to always have equipment growing up,” says Smalley.
The elder Smalley then contacted Roy, who jumped on board right away. “It was the mission that grabbed me and my life as a kid. Regardless of whether I’d become a major league player or not, a kid’s life should and must include play. Once kids are sheltered and fed, they ought to be able to have a life [in play],” Smalley says.
PIFB provides new and used baseball equipment to underprivileged kids locally and globally, as well as to victims of natural disasters. “In thinking about chronic underserved communities... even if there are places with equipment, which RBI [Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities] and Boys and Girls Club have done a terrific job with, oftentimes the equipment stays at the club, at the park, and is locked up somewhere. When a kid gets his own glove to take home at night, it’s a big deal. I remember when I got my first baseball glove at 5 years old. I think I slept with it every night,” says Smalley.
In the past nine years, PIFB has given more than $3.5 million worth of equipment to 250,000 low-income kids in 80 countries and in nearly every state. But Smalley says PIFB hasn’t “even scratched the surface” of raising awareness of the program. Like any other charity, PIFB is in need of equipment and cash donations.
To learn more or donate, visit pitchinforbaseball.org.