Bradenton’s sister-city relationship with Pittsburgh has led to a lot of partnerships between the two cities, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the ultimate creation of the Bradenton Marauders eight years ago, but the bond also deepens to a spiritual level.
The Pirates and Marauders do a lot within the community, some is well publicized, but most is not. Players devoted 250 hours to community service last year, doing everything from walking dogs at the animal shelter to serving meals to the homeless at Our Daily Bread.
“At the core of who we are, we understand our purpose in life is to serve others,” said Sara Hardy, marketing and community relations assistant for the Pirates and Marauders. “It’s phenomenal to see the work the players do and what they can do in the community, and we are always looking to increase the hours we spend in the community.”
Hardy, speaking at Tuesday’s Faith Based Alliance meeting, said the two organizations partner with 50 local nonprofits and are looking for more. One partnership is with the 13th Av Dream Center and Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program, or RBI.
Dream Center Chief Operating Officer Alexandra Green said the partnership with the Pirates has been instrumental to the community center’s baseball program.
“The Pirates and the Marauders have been really, really good for us,” said Green. “From the renovations to the baseball fields, to the uniforms, to the sponsorship of our teams, to have friends like them is to have friends, literally. They all have been instrumental to not just breaking into the RBI baseball program, but in supporting all of our services.”
There’s a reason for that, said Marauders Assistant General Manager Craig Warzecha.
We need community support more than the community needs a baseball team and we have a great relationship with the city, the county and our community partners.
Craig Warzecha, Bradenton Marauders assistant general manager
“We undergo a philosophy that we need to be a good neighbor in the community,” Warzecha said. “We need community support more than the community needs a baseball team and we have a great relationship with the city, the county and our community partners.”
Nolan Bialek, account manager, Ticket Sales Florida Operations for the two organizations, said faith plays an important role for the Pirates and Marauders.
“That’s one reason why we do the faith and family night at LECOM Park,” Bialek said. “It’s a fun, safe, family environment for churches and other community groups who come to the park for a fun night out. We also have players talk about faith and how their faith has affected their personal lives and careers.”
Hardy said part of her job is to get the players into the community to serve. It’s perhaps the easiest part of her job simply because the players love to do it.
“We want to help others and serve our communities, and most importantly, to leave a footprint that matters,” she said.