The Development of Social and Community Responsibility – The Role of Baseball

What baseball will come to mean is the farthest thing in a young child’s mind when walking toward the field to play his first baseball game.

Clean uniform, matching cap, glove securely attached to one small hand while the other clasps the palm of his father’s giant hand. A father’s glowing pride and knowing smile understands that while they walk onto the field together they are beginning a journey of learning to come together for the greater good.

Steve Pindar walked that journey twice in his life when both his sons started playing baseball.  The life lessons they learned together are a significant part of the foundation of Roberto’s Kids and The Pindar Family’s focus on community and social responsibility.

In the game of baseball winning isn’t everything

All socio-economic barriers are removed on this field of dreams  Team members one uniform, and a great pride translates into a strong sense of family and community. What young athletes learn in exciting moments during a game is that you can’t play a baseball game alone.

If you’re a great pitcher, someone else needs to hit the ball.  If you’re the 2nd baseman, someone has to run the baselines for your to work your magic. Baseball, grounded in the rich tradition of sportsmanship and leadership, teaches respect and responsibility.  In order to be responsible to the team you first have to be responsible to yourself.  Respect yourself first, then others.

As young boys grow with the game they become role models and leaders fort the younger boys that will follow them.  Respectful competition pushes young men to break records and earn positions on their team. They practice together, or order to play together, in order to win together.  Together they are more.

The skills a young athlete needs to possess to be a vital part of his team are the same skills he needs to be a vital part of his community.

  • He must recognize and accept the consequences of the actions and decisions he undertakes.  (Character, Leadership, Integrity)
  • He must hold a caring attitude towards himself and others.  (Respect and Responsibility)
  • He learns a strong sense of control and competence, learning to recognize and accept individuality and diversity.  (Sportsmanship)

Growing up with baseball cultivates openness to new ideas, experiences, and people.  Together, as a team, the importance of volunteering in community activities becomes part of the season.  It leads to a higher development of leadership, sense of community and social skills.

Youth baseball organizations strive to develop and maintain a strong connection to their communities.  Ongoing goals and visions are to be an enduring source of pride not only for the athletes, but also for families and the community. One of the ways Roberto’s Kids develops and nurtures social and community responsibility globally is by partnering with volunteers in their local communities. 

Collection Hub Efforts in Action

Bernie Kelleher, Collection Hub Coordinator in Virginia Beach manages a collection hub in his local community.  The Kelleher Family became an important part of our organization and held a commitment to see what they had built and developed, at a local level, when they needed to move on.  (Bernie’s family was transferred to Belgium by Lockheed Martin.)

Bernie’s words are the very core of our program impact, “This program has been one of my life’s most rewarding experiences because it has instilled an ethic of community service in my children.” Collection drives amass equipment and uniforms that are distributed where there is need.  volunteers are building and developing organized baseball (through their donations) in parts of the world where there is need or no sense of community.

Our Global Initiative 

In the 90’s, the Pindar family supported local church mission work by travelling into 3rd-world countries to participate (together) in learning about life in other countries.  They watched baseball played by children in the Dominican Republic when project work was done.

Steve observed it was a pastime, not organized baseball as he and his family knew. Young children were using broomsticks for bats, rocks for bases, and balls made of rolled-up cloth from dress hems.  Poor substitutes for real equipment. Roberto’s Kids program headquarters is in Oneonta, NY, home of the Oneonta Little League Association, where Steve coached baseball while both his sons grew up with the game.

In 1999, the Oneonta Little League Association was cleaning out their press box at Doc Knapp Field and offered their old and unused uniforms and equipment to Pindar.  Oneonta Little League does not charge a fee for their youth athletes to play baseball.  It was a natural for the associations to extend the philosophy by donating their old and well-worn uniforms and equipment where it would travel to the Dominican Republic to be redistributed.

That original donation established several new baseball team leagues in the Dominican Republic, where youth are now playing baseball in uniforms with real bats and balls. No more important, this original effort established a baseball equipment collection program in the Pindar’s garage.

Their program quickly outgrew their garage.  The donations began overtaking their basement, until there was no alternative but to expand into a storage unit.  And then two more units. In 2005, through Dale Petrosky, Former president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Steve began discussions with the Clemente family.

Having admired the late, great Roberto Clemente, Sr. for his baseball career and his humanitarian efforts, Steve set his sights on establishing a friendship with the family, demonstrating his work and intentions, and ultimately receive their consent to formally call his program – Roberto’s  Kids.

In 2009, 10 years after several boxes were lined up along the side wall of the Pindar family garage, there are collection hubs across the nation, volunteers and coordinators focused on local efforts in their region, and thousands of volunteers in more than 34 states across the United States and three Provinces in Canada; all demonstrating the development of social and community responsibility in many forms.

Sustainable Impact – Making a Difference in the Lives of Others

At Roberto’s Kids our global reach and leadership bridges the gap between different cultures.  We focus on sustainable impact while our volunteers focus on the development of social and community responsibility results that will endure.  Either way you you say it, the meaning is the same.

Everyone is about making a different in the lives of others.

In his time, Roberto Clemente, Sr. shared, “Any time you have the opportunity to make a difference in the world, and you don’t, you are wasting your time here on Earth.”

The Pindar family continues the legacy of the late, great Roberto Clemente, Sr.

Scores of program volunteers, groups and organizations across the United States and Canada have contributed their hand and their hearts – all in a collective efforts to transform communities, and ultimately  lives. Every one involved in our program accomplishes this day-in and day-out by collecting donations, storing donations, and more.  Only then can we respond to program participants in need.

Together, we achieve this by delivering youth, and their families, the opportunity to allow the game of baseball to lead them through the process of the development of social and community responsibility. Social and community responsibility comes in many forms.  The stronger we are the better we serve.  The greater our drive, the closer our ties as partners.

We see this kind of motivation and devotion throughout our family of program participants every day.  It is the driving force that allows us all to take the power and possibilities of community energy and enterprise and make an impact wherever it lands.