NATURALLY ENGAGED: Pawtucket Red Sox's Paws pals it up with Noah Minucci, 8, of Cranston at the Whole Foods store there to benefit the Whole Kids Foundation, which has the goal of improving nutrition for children.
It's difficult to pinpoint what exactly earned the Pawtucket Red Sox the Providence Business News' Business Excellence Award for Community Involvement for 2016. The ballclub's list of community outreach and charitable fundraising over the past 43 years is expansive.
First and foremost is the fact the Triple-A Boston Red Sox affiliate established a charitable foundation in 1999 that has donated more than $1 million to a variety of community organizations. The PawSox were honored in 2014 with Minor League Baseball's John Henry Moss Community Service Award for being a team with a demonstrated and ongoing commitment to community service.
Pawtucket Red Sox Vice Chairman Mike Tamburro's community service starts with his and the club's 40-year involvement with Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club.
For 25 seasons, the ballclub has sent two Boys & Girls Club youngsters between the ages of 10-14 to the Major League Baseball World Series – footing the bill for tickets, air travel and hotels. It sponsors the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket's RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) team with a $10,000 donation to help pay for uniforms and equipment. Tamburro also recently co-chaired the fundraising effort that built an $8 million addition to the Boys & Girls Club headquarters.
Other programs and organizations the club underwrites every year include Meeting Street in Providence, at which Tamburro has been a board member for about 10 years. The club sponsors an annual "Walk and Roll" event that includes participants who use wheelchairs – all participants get game tickets. A pre-game ceremony on the field includes the presentation of a $40,000 check to the school.
For the Challenger Little League of Coventry, which is comprised of young ball players who are physically and mentally disabled, the PawSox sponsors an annual Challenger Clinic, which allows these players to practice, learn from and meet PawSox players right on the McCoy Stadium field.
Every July, the club hosts a U.S. citizenship swearing-in ceremony at McCoy Stadium. It's also hosted fundraising barbecues for the Little Sisters of the Poor and the local Home and Hospice Organization. For two years in a row it has held a Veterans Day luncheon in the PawSox clubhouse as a thanks to those who served their country.
"It's all about our overall willingness to help the community," Tamburro said. "To help lift up those in need is the responsibility of a successful company. And we have a willingness to do our share in a quiet way."
New programs this season include a "Hurl the Pearl" event that benefits families with children diagnosed with cancer. In the fifth inning of every home game, fans throw softballs into the sunroof of a moving Honda Odyssey. The softballs are sold for $1 each. The event has raised more than $10,000 for the Providence-based, cancer-support organization The Tomorrow Fund.
There's also "My Hero Mondays," during which a local citizen is nominated by fans on the club website to be introduced at a Monday home game and throw the ceremonial first pitch. Joe Bradlee – special assistant to the president and general manager – said this program has been so popular that the club had to add Tuesday and Thursday games for introducing these local heroes.
He is glad this is another PawSox community initiative that's been a success.
"We all feel a moral and social obligation as a successful organization to give back in every way we can," he said. •