Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute Update

 Some big news about my charity operation. I have been given another one time donation. This donation is the biggest amount of money that I have received to date, and is only contingent on myself snagging a baseball and getting it signed by Andrew McCutchen. This may or may not prove to be hard.

 Also, the interview I had with Matt Shetler of Sports Haze Pittsburgh on Tuesday was made into an article which came out yesterday and is entitled Pittsburgh Pirates fan going to bat for a worthy cause. What follows is an exact transcription of the article.

“In today’s age of sports, where so much attention is paid to high-priced athletes running afoul with the law, the good stories tend to go unnoticed at times. We tend to put more stock these days into professional athletes’ Twitter accounts then noticing when a truly good story comes around.

That’s not the case in Pittsburgh, where a young fan is trying to do something very special.

That fan is 19-year old Zac Weiss and his crusade is a special one.

That crusade is entitled “Ball Hawking 2011, Proudly Supporting the Children’s Institute.”

The concept sounds simple. The results though could be remarkable; especially coming from someone only 19 years of age.

“Basically, I try and get to the stadium as early as possible,” said Weiss, a die-hard Pirates fan who is in his third season as a partial season ticket holder. “Then I just try and get as many balls as possible.”

 To date, Weiss, who graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School and is currently enrolled at Point Park University, has collected over 100 baseballs using a variety of techniques. He has hung out in the outfield chasing down home run balls during batting practice. He also has worked both dugouts during warmups. You can even catch him hanging out by the bullpens trying to get players to throw him a ball.

Watching Weiss attempt to do his thing during a recent game against the Atlanta Braves, I also realized that there may be some strategy involved in what he’s attempting to do. While hanging down by the Braves dugout I noticed him donning the familiar red and blue colors of the visiting Braves.

As he made his way to the Pirates dugout, Weiss changed shirts and was now in the more familiar black and gold he would normally wear to a Pirates game.

 “I noticed that visiting players tend to pay more attention to the fans wearing their colors,” added Weiss. “I just attempt to blend in and catch their attention.”

Most of these ball hawkers get a bad rep from stadium to stadium around the major leagues. Most of us have all been in a spot to take home a souvenir, only to see some ball hawker come along and swipe it away. What separates Weiss from the rest is what he’s doing with the balls.

 Weiss doesn’t take the balls home to hang on his wall. He doesn’t sell them to put money in his pocket. Instead, what he’s doing is quite commendable.

Every ball that Weiss collects at games gets auctioned off, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to The Children’s Institute.

“I consider myself to be a good person,” said Weiss. “I looked at what I am doing and I asked myself how I could help others by doing this. A lot of people hate people like myself that go around catching baseballs, but I always make a point to give back to children.”

If you’re not familiar with The Children’s Institute, it’s a charity that helps kids that may be behind or lacking certain skills. They also reach out to help children that are in real need of help. It’s an institution that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is also firmly behind.

It wasn’t very difficult for Weiss to select The Children’s Institute as the beneficiary of his work, since Weiss himself has a close tie to the institution, having attended there as a child.

“I went to The Children’s Institute once a week when I was in Kindergarten, as I was well behind my age group in terms of motor skills,” added Weiss. “They helped me with smiles on their faces and it made me more confident then. It is a big part of the person that I have become today, and that is why I am inspired to do this.”

Weiss has had many of the balls autographed, which are also being auctioned off. To date, he has balls signed from Tim Lincecum, Adam Wainwright, Ubaldo Jimenez, Billy Wagner, Matt Garza, Ryan Braun, Colby Rasmus, Todd Helton, Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez, among others.

Not only does Weiss auction off balls, you can also find programs and equipment items, both signed and unsigned.

The Pirates have also been helpful to Weiss. He has spoken to Kiere Bulls, the team’s assistant equipment manager, who has offered to donate some equipment to the cause.

Hurdle is also involved in his “Wins for Kids” campaign, which also benefits The Children’s Institute.

“I am hoping to speak with him in an effort to communicate my cause and potentially collaborate with him,” said Weiss. “I really want to join forces with him and hopefully even help each other out. The Children’s Institute is a great non-profit that does so much for children, and I commend them for that, I just hope others realize that they cannot do it all alone, and thus will need people’s help.”

Who said one kid can’t make a difference? Weiss is sure trying to do his part.

If interested in bidding on some of his items, you can do so by email at yngzc@yahoo.com. You can also keep up to date with his progress by visiting his webpage.”

 All in all, it was a great article and being a journalist, I know how long the article took as well.

 I also have heard nothing regarding meeting with Clint Hurdle, but I know what to do to try and fix that. Please help support this initiative as it all goes to a great cause, and I cannot do this alone.

2 Comments

You da man. VERY cool that you’re doing this.

Thanks Zack. I really want this to do well, and already I have amassed a respectable amount through pledges after two games. I just hope the weather cooperates and I can stay healthy/injury free.

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