Now and again, those in professional sports have stepped in to help out a struggling high school program in a time of need. Usually that aid is coordinated well in advance of an event, though that wasn't the case for one lucky Pittsburgh-area school in recent days.
As first reported by Baldwin-White-Hall Patch, among other sources, Pittsburgh Pirates Chairman and CEO Bob Nutting singlehandedly ensured that the Baldwin (Penn.) High softball team got to its scheduled spring tournament trip to South Carolina. The trouble with the long-planned sojourn were brought on by the unsuspected bankruptcy filing of Direct Air, which the team was scheduled to fly back to Pennsylvania on following its participation in the Myrtle Beach event.
Considering the fact that the team had already spent some $10,000 on unrefundable hotel rooms, tournament fees and car rentals, canceling the trip seemed like an incredibly pricey decision, though one which the program appeared to heading directly towards.
That's when Nutting stepped in, offering up the funds to charter a bus to drive the team back to Pennsylvania from South Carolina; the team had no trouble getting to the event because its outbound flight was on U.S. Airways rather than Direct Air.
"I heard of the team's dilemma and felt compelled to ensure their trip would not be canceled after all of the hard work that was put in by the school, students and families to raise the necessary funds," Nutting told the press in a written statement.
"I spoke with the school's Athletic Director Vince Sortino and offered to help by arranging to have a charter bus bring the team back home. I am pleased we were able to help in this case, and I hope that they have a wonderful trip and a successful tournament and season."
Naturally, for the amount of positive PR that the Pirates will gain from this incident, its hard to see Nutting's donation as anything less than a shrewd investment.
At the same time, it's entirely likely that Nutting made the decision to donate the funds need for their bus rise without any thought of PR at all, giving up the money simply because it was the right thing to do.
If nothing else, the entire incident seems to have made serious Pirates fans out of anyone connected with the Baldwin softball program.
"It's quite awesome," Cheri Young, of the Baldwin Softball Boosters told Baldwin-White-Hall patch. "We're so grateful and thankful for the Pirates to come forward and take note."