Pirates chairman charters bus for Baldwin High softball team

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The Baldwin High School softball team's pleas for a ride home from Myrtle Beach, S.C., have been answered by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pirates chairman Bob Nutting will charter a bus to return the team from a Cal Ripken Experience softball tournament Sunday in Myrtle Beach.

"It was a complete surprise, and when my mom told me about it I was shocked. I didn't think it was real," said Erica Young, a Baldwin senior and the team's right fielder. "I'm very thankful that someone came through and that we're able to stay through Sunday."

The team raised $10,000 for the trip.

But players were left in limbo without a way home when Direct Air shut down operations last week and cancelled their return flight from Myrtle Beach to Pittsburgh.

"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," Mr. Nutting said in a written statement.

The team will leave for Myrtle Beach Wednesday. The trip is a last hurrah for their seniors.

"You see stories of generosity and people helping other people, but when a corporation such as the Pirates steps up and does something for a local school, it really is amazing," said Vince Sortino, the school's athletic director. "It says a lot about the people and the organization, it really does."

The money the team had already paid in nonrefundable flights to Myrtle Beach, hotel stays and tournament fees was in jeopardy when Direct Air announced the cancellations out of the blue.

The team originally spent $1,700 total for the one-way Direct Air flights of 13 players and three coaches. When the team began looking for alternative transportation last week, flights had jumped to more than $450 per person on other airlines.

A charter bus would have cost the team $4,000 it didn't have.

Mr. Nutting said the Pirates organization strives to make a "meaningful impact" in the community.

"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," he said.

Taryn Luna: tluna@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1985.


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