Bats for Matt

BFM-logo-new.jpgUSA Baseball’s National Training Complex (NTC) opened it’s gates to the local high school baseball community on Saturday, April 9th.  The Green Hope Falcons took on the Panther Creek Catamounts in a game dedicated to the memory of Green Hope High School alum, Matt Cossa.  This was the 5th annual, “Bats for Matt”, memorial game but the first played at the NTC. 

USA Baseball was happy to have such a wonderful
event at the NTC.  In addition to the varsity baseball game, there was a raffle, silent auction, kid’s activities and even a magician set up in the back fields area.  Post game, Dr. David Rizzieri from Duke spoke and Hearts for Hope, a balloon launch took place on the field in Matt’s memory.  The game concluded in a Green Hope 4-3 win over
Panther Creek.  Regardless of the score everyone was happy to honor
Matt’s memory and have the experience to play at the NTC.

Matt Cossa proudly wore the number 12 during his baseball career at Green Hope High School.  After graduating from Green Hope in 2003, he continued his education at the UNC-Chapel Hill.  Matt lost his battle to Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the spring of 2006.  The Matt Cossa Memorial Foundation was created to honor Matt’s memory as well as dedicated to promote research and treatment for lymphoma and other blood cancers.  With the support of Matt’s family, friends, alma mater and the local community they have raised over $100,000.  For more information on “Bats for Matt” or the Matt Cossa Memorial Fund please visit here.
 

Hope. Live. Walk.

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HLW.jpg“So I close in saying that I may have had a bad break,
but I have an awful lot to live for.” -Lou Gehrig

On July 4, 1939 Lou Gehrig said goodbye to the game of
baseball.  Gehrig was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
(ALS).  He was one of the first famous people known to have the
degenerative disease.  Now, it is believed, according
to the ALS Association, Jim “Catfish” Hunter Chapter, that as many as 30,000 Americans currently have ALS.

On Saturday, April 2nd, the Triangle Walk to Defeat ALS took place at Credit Suisse campus in Research Triangle Park.  Over 2,000
participants showed up to walk in support of finding a cure and raising
awareness for ALS. 

USA Baseball was happy to be there to support such a great organization with a
wonderful mission.  USA Baseball and the
ALS Association, Jim “Catfish” Hunter Chapter have been working together ever
since USA Baseball relocated to North Carolina. 
Not only were we there to support the cause but to promote other ALS
Awareness events coming up this summer. 
On June 27th, there will be an ALS Benefit Clinic at the
National Training Complex and on July 4th, it will be ALS Awareness
Night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park when the USA Baseball College National
Team plays Japan. 

Regardless of whether you were a walk
participant, a volunteer or just a supporter of the cause-there were a lot of
emotions in the air that day…  

One thing that really stuck out to me from the walk was a lady named Kerry,
that came up to our tent right as we were packing up to leave.  I happened
to be wearing a USA Baseball fleece that she recognized.  Turns out, their
family has attended our ALS Benefit Clinic in the past.  As we began talking, I realize that even
though I had never met Kerry before I knew exactly who she was. 

This past holiday season, we received an
e-mail from a friend of Kerry’s.  The friend told us of Kerry’s family,
her husband, Phil, who was fighting ALS and their two boys that love
baseball.  Knowing that the holidays could to be a difficult time for
Kerry’s family we worked with Kerry’s friend to get the boys some Christmas
presents, USAB fleeces and baseball cards.  We wrapped them up and sent
them along to Kerry’s family.

When Kerry saw us at the ALs walk, she
wanted to come up and thank us for what we did.  A small effort for us, it made a big impact on Kerry’s
family.  Unfortunately, Kerry’s husband
Phil passed away late in 2010 and the holidays were a difficult time for their
family.  The generosity of USA Baseball
was greatly appreciated in their time of need.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life
that make the biggest difference…

USA Baseball Spring Training Clinic

On Saturday, March 26th USA Baseball hosted its 10th annual Spring Training Coaches and Player Clinic at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. 

For the first weekend of spring, mother nature was not on our side.  My trusty, early morning, cup of coffee barely made it a few minutes before getting cold.  I am no meteorologist but I know that means it was pretty darn cold outside!

Luckily, the weather did not keep local coaches and kids from coming out for a great day of baseball.  In the morning, we had close to 100 local baseball coaches come out to receive top-notch instruction from USA Baseball coaches and instructors. 

Later in the day, more than 130 players ages 6-12
came out for instruction, drills and games.  Below, players lined-up to participate in a home run derby station.  Nice swings-looks like we may have some future stars in our midst!
 
stc.JPGOverall, it was a great day for local baseball community at the National Training Complex.  We hope to see you all out there next year!

We Are One

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Our country tends to come together in times of tragedy.  On January 8th, a tragic shooting
in Tucson, Arizona took place at a local grocery store, where residents were
gathered to hear Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords speak.  Six lives were lost that day, many were severely
injured and countless numbers were affected by the event, including the
baseball community.  The youngest of all
victims was 9 year old Christina-Taylor Green. 
Christina was the daughter of John Green, scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers
and granddaughter of former Philadelphia Phillies manager, Dallas Green.  Not only was Christina a member of the
baseball community through her own family but she too loved the game.  She was the only girl on her little league
team and dreamed of one day being the first woman to play in the Major Leagues.  Her Little League team along with many others
wear a patch designed in her memory. 

Today, March 7th, the first of two games played
in honor of Christina.  The Arizona
Diamondbacks take on the Chicago White Sox at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, in
Tucson, previous spring training home to both. 
The proceeds from the charity exhibition game will go to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund. 

The Diamondbacks will return to Tucson again on March 25th
to take on the Dodgers in a second game benefiting the Tucson Together Fund.  The Tucson Together Fund was created to help
with expenses of those and their families directly affected from the
shooting.   

It’s impossible to imagine how it feels to lose such a young
child.  Although, nothing can bring
Christina back to her family, the baseball community continues to support their own during this difficult time. 

Before USA Baseball moved to
Cary, NC in 2003 their home was in Tucson, Arizona.  Our hearts go out to the city of Tucson, the entire Green family and all those affected by this
tragedy.  The support shown from the entire baseball community, makes us thankful to be a part of something so special.  

For the Love of the Game

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Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love and
let’s face it, a great day for the greeting card and flower industry.  But why does Valentine’s Day just have to be
about that one special person in your life? 
At the risk of sounding corny, there is so much to love in this
world, why only celebrate one?  Take a
minute and think about everything you love…your list might include everything
from your family to your favorite pair of shoes and if you’re lucky, your list
includes the game of baseball.    

There is just something about the game of baseball, that
makes you love it for no specific reason other than because you just do.  Maybe you love it because it’s America’s pastime
or maybe because of the great memories it’s given you over the years.  One of the many reasons I love baseball (and
my job for that matter) is the joy it brings to people, especially kids.  Kids’ eyes light up, smile form across their
face and they just have that look of pure happiness.  It’s a feeling that every kid deserves to
have.  However, sometimes it’s not that
easy to step out on to a field and play, especially for kids facing physical or
mental disabilities.  That’s where the
Miracle League comes in.  The Miracle
League is an fantastic organization that gives every kid a chance to play baseball, the chance
to experience the love and the joy that the game can bring. 

Lucky for us, there is a Miracle League right down the
street from us, in Cary.  The Triangle Miracle
League
has an awesome facility and a wonderful support system of staff and
volunteers who make every kids’ dream of playing baseball a reality.  For two seasons during the year, kids ages 5
and up, their families and members of the community are welcome to participate
in fulfilling the Miracle League mission of creating positive life experiences
kids with special needs and their families through baseball. 

Let’s celebrate the love of baseball every day and help make
some miracle happen!     

Case of the Mondays?

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Let’s be honest, Monday is just one of those days that no
one really looks forward to.  Sunday rolls around, the weekend is almost over
and it’s time to face the work week again.  As I was cruising around on
Facebook one day, I came across a unique organization called Miracle Mondays;
they have put a different spin on Mondays.  Instead of dreading Mondays and
all that comes along with them, Mondays are officially AWESOME!  Mondays are a day to look forward to, a day
to make a difference in someone else’s life and a day to improve your own
life.  The best part is this is happening
right in our own backyard, down the street at Duke Children’s Hospital. 

Like Mondays, hospitals are one of those places that no one
seems to like much either.  Miracle
Mondays are not only making Mondays positive but hospitals too.  Some children have to spend a large majority
of their young lives in hospitals.  For
these kids, they do this so they can get better and get back to being a kid as
quick as possible.  I wish I could tell
you these kids are in and out of hospital with in a few days or a week but it’s
not always that simple.  So in order to
make their extended stay in the hospital as positive as possible, Miracle
Mondays are changing the atmosphere of kids hospital rooms by adding color,
art, poetry, games and fun!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to experience the impact
Miracle Mondays has on the kids at Duke Children’s Hospital.  I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous
because every time I have been to a hospital it hasn’t been the best
experience, but this time was different.  Armed with a case of USA Baseball baseballs cards and the help of our
friends at Miracle Mondays, we entered the hospital with hopes that we could
brighten the day with a little bit of baseball.  As we walked the halls of the children’s
hospital, dropping off a box of baseball cards in different kids’ rooms the response
was overwhelming, not just from the kids but from their families too.  When
the kids asked how many cards they could keep out of the box and we told them
the whole box was theirs to keep, eyes lit up, a smile came over their face and
experiencing that is beyond words.  If a
box of baseball cards can make that much of a difference in a kid’s life,
imagine the possibilities…

Check out Miracle Mondays
to get a glimpse of our visit to the bravest kids on the planet.

Happy Monday!

Welcome Back

Welcome back USA Baseball fans!

For those of you loyal followers out there, we apologize for the two and a half year hiatus.  To all the newbies out there, thanks for tuning in and let me fill you in on the where we left off, two and a half years ago.  USA Baseball started this blog as a countdown to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.  To sum up a 357 day countdown of blog posts, USA brought home the bronze medal beating Japan 8-4 and finished with an overall record of 5-2.  So in theory, now would be an opportune time to start another countdown to the next Summer Olympic Games.  Bad news is the International Olympic Committee officially removed baseball and softball from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  Sadly, no countdown necessary for us this year. 

So what are we going to do with this blog, you ask?  We are going to keep you updated on what USA Baseball is doing in our community!  USA Baseball relocated from Tuscon, AZ in 2003 to the heart of the great state of North Carolina.  Even though we have been here for going on 8 years now, I still get one of the following responses/questions when I reply to the age old question of “what do you do for a living?” 
Option 1: blank stare with the occasional head tilt and “huh?”
Option 2: “I didn’t know USA Baseball was in North Carolina?” 
Option 3: “What is USA Baseball?”

It’s time to change this!  That’s where I come in, my name is Lindsay and it’s nice to meet all you blog readers out there.  I will keep you updated on all things USA Baseball going on in our community or what I hope will become commonly known as USAB in NC.  The new ways we are going to expand our involvement in our community are endless.  New ideas are created daily and your feedback and ideas are welcome too!  First, we are going to start with giving back through teaming up with awesome organizations like the Triangle Miracle League, ALS Association-Jim “Catfish” Hunter Chapter and Miracle Mondays.  We will also stick to what works and continue our successful traditions of reaching out to local families to participate in our Tournament of Stars Host Family Program and the local business community to participate in our ‘Extra Innings’ Networking Event. 

This is only the beginning so stay tuned!