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07/09/2008 4:21 PM ET
Pirates Charities partners with Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania to build first Miracle League Field in Southwestern Pennsylvania
New field will allow special needs children to realize dream of playing baseball
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Pirates Charities, the philanthropic arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania (MLSWPA) announced today that Pirates Charities will partner with the MLSWPA to build the Pirates Charities Miracle League Field. As part of the agreement, Pirates Charities is committing to fund $200,000 towards the construction of Southwestern Pennsylvania's first baseball field designed specifically for children with special needs. The donation includes a $50,000 contribution from Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez and his wife Alissa.

The new field will be made of a synthetic surface to make it possible for children in wheelchairs and walkers to safely move about the field. It will also feature an ADA compliant concession stand, dugouts, and restrooms and include lights that will allow the children to play night games.

Located in Cranberry Township's new Dick's Sporting Goods Sportsplex at Graham Park, the Pirates Charities Miracle League Field will serve the entire Southwestern Pennsylvania region when it opens, tentatively scheduled for May 2009.

"The Pirates Charities Miracle League Field will allow special needs children throughout our region to realize the dream of playing baseball. More importantly it will give these children and their families an opportunity to develop relationships with their peers and other families facing similar challenges," said Bob Nutting, Chairman of both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pirates Charities.

"For more than 122 years the Pirates and our players, like Freddy, have demonstrated our commitment to the Pittsburgh community. Last year, the Pirates organization and Pirates Charities assisted more than 2,000 organizations. We are proud of these partnerships and the positive impact that together we have on our region."

According to 2000 census statistics, nearly 90,000 special needs children reside in the counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Lawrence, Mercer, Westmoreland and Venango alone. The Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania is open to any special needs child who wants to play. "We are extremely excited to form our partnership with Pirates Charities to provide this baseball league so that special needs children may enjoy the same type of experience that their brothers, sisters and friends currently do," said Mike Sherry, president, MLSWPA. "This partnership, coupled with the generosity of Cranberry Township and the Cranberry Township Athletic Association, provides us with a very solid foundation on which to move forward with our plans to begin league play in 2009."

Affiliated with the national Miracle League Baseball organization, the MLSWPA is a registered 501(c)3 organization that is committed to raising in excess of $500,000 to build, operate and endow the Pirates Charities Miracle League Field. It has also reached an agreement with Cranberry Township to provide land for the Miracle League field as part of the baseball complex that the Township is developing in Graham Park. In addition, the MLSWPA has an agreement with the Cranberry Township Athletic Association to handle operating the league on a day-to-day basis once league play begins.

Graham Park is being developed on 115 acres of farmland purchased from the Graham family in 2003. The plan embodies four distinct campuses, each with multiple playing fields focused on a different family of sports.

There are currently 200 Miracle League organizations across the world, including Puerto Rico and Canada. Approximately 120 have completed field construction while the rest remain in various stages of development. More than 80,000 special needs children and young adults participate in these Miracle Leagues.

About Pirates Charities
Pirates Charities, the philanthropic arm of arm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is a 501(c)3 organization that focuses on three core areas of youth health, fitness and education. Based on these core areas, the objective of Pirates Charities is outlined in the charitable foundation's mission statement:
Pirates Charities is committed to strengthening the community by supporting organizations and programs aimed at improving the lives of children and adults in the greater Pittsburgh region. Pirates Charities places a special emphasis on supporting youth programs focused on health, fitness, and education by developing partnerships with those who share in our mission.

In 2007, the Pirates and Pirates Charities assisted more than 2,000 organizations. To learn more about Pirates positive impact in the community, visit www.pirates.com/community.

About The Miracle League
The Miracle League concept was developed in Conyers, GA in 2000. It was decided that each player would bat once each inning that all batters would be safe and score a run before the inning was over. "Games" are two innings long and each team and each player always wins. Integral to the Miracle League concept is the "Buddy System." Buddies assist all Miracle League players. These buddies are mainstream children who play baseball or are members of youth church groups, boys and girls scouts, and other volunteer groups or simply individuals of any age who want to get involved. For more information about MLSWPA, visit www.miracleleagueofsouthwesternpa.org
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