The seventh annual "Pirates Charities on ROOT Sports Auction" took place on June 10, and once again the night of televised fundraising was a huge success. In fact, Pirates fans from all around the country helped to raise more than $600,000 -- which is a record for the event.
Proceeds from this year's auction will go to Pirates Charities and three non-profit organizations that specialize in assisting returning service men and women. Namely, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, and Operation Troop Appreciation.
During the "Pirates Charities on ROOT Sports Auction" fans visited the Rivertowne Brewing Hall of Fame Club inside PNC Park, called the Pirates Charities hotline, and visited pirates.com to order VIP and VIP Plus bags during the game between the Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.
ROOT Sports also broadcasted the auction live from the Rivertowne Brewing Hall of Fame Club, and over the course of the evening the Pirates sold all 3,000 of the VIP and VIP Plus bags that were available. Remarkably, the fans who purchased bags came from 42 different states.
The VIP bags included a baseball autographed by a Pirates player, a baseball autographed by a Pirates World Series hero, an exclusive New Era adjustable "camo P" cap, a voucher good for two tickets to a 2014 Pirates home game, a Pirates t-shirt, and more. The VIP Plus bags also included an authentic Pirates home white or black alternate game jersey autographed by the purchaser's favorite player.
Fans also had the opportunity to bid on the black Pirates jerseys with the specially designed digital camouflage letters and numbers that the team wore that evening against the Cubs -- which was Military Appreciation Night. That part of the festivities took place online from 5:30 p.m. on June 10 through 5:00 p.m. on June 11. Pirates Charities raised nearly $50,000 as the result of those sharp-looking jerseys (which were autographed) being put up for bid.
In addition, proceeds from the Pirates Charities in-park 50/50 Raffle that night were donated to the fundraising effort.
Afterwards, Pirates President Frank Coonelly said: "We thank our great fans for showing their support for another successful and record-breaking auction. Thanks to their generosity, together we will be making a meaningful difference in the lives of our returning veterans. We also thank our partner, ROOT Sports, for their remarkable generosity and their efforts on behalf of our returning service men and women."
One of the many great things about Major League Baseball is that while teams compete against each other fiercely on the field, they often share ideas for successful community relations projects. The televised auction is a great example.
"We were originally introduced to the concept of a broadcast auction by the Miami Marlins," said Patty Paytas, Pirates Senior Vice President of Community & Public Affairs. "They had done it for a few years and it was pretty successful, so we decided to try it here seven years ago."
The inaugural "Pirates Charities on ROOT Sports Auction" generated approximately $75,000 -- which was a solid number for a first-time endeavor. But the amount that has been raised for charity via the event has grown each year since then, frankly beyond expectations.
"We have been overwhelmed by how the event has grown, especially the leaps it has taken over the past three years," Paytas said. "Since 2012, the auction has generated more than $400,000 annually. This year, we raised more than $600,000 -- which is a phenomenal number.
"We attribute this great success to the power of the stories about the beneficiaries that ROOT Sports so wonderfully tells, and to the growing popularity of the team here in Pittsburgh and around the country."
From the beginning, ROOT Sports -- the Pirates' television broadcast partner -- believed the auction would raise awareness of the outstanding work the team does in the community, plus give fans an opportunity to get involved.
"The auction became the perfect outlet to simultaneously accomplish those two goals," said Shawn McClintock, Senior Vice President & General Manager for ROOT Sports. "What started out as a modest way to bring some light to these deserving non-profits has become a highly anticipated event that we, the Pirates, Pirates Charities and the fans all look forward to each season.
"The VIP bags sold to garner donations have gone from a few hundred to a few thousand, and that truly speaks to the fans' dedication to the team and their compassion for the community. With their outpouring of support and the tremendous efforts of the team and Pirates Charities, there's no doubt this auction will continue to grow as we collectively help some amazing organizations."