Building Community Through Youth Baseball and Softball

Building Community Through Youth Baseball and Softball

Curveball Keepsakes is a small business (sole proprietorship) with a “B-Corporation” commitment to “Business for Good.”

I believe baseball builds both character and community – and also believe businesses large and small, have an obligation to give back to the communities that give them life. Because of my own lifelong ties to the game, I’m deeply committed to building Curveball Keepsakes based on two key principles:

1. We will preserve your little and big league moments with the same care as if they were our own

2. We will help build community through baseball and softball, by giving back to youth organizations all over the country

Our goal is to create giveback partnerships with 100 youth organizations by the end of 2020.

I became a Little League volunteer in 2006 when I coached my son’s t-ball team. I distinctly remember going to my first West Plains Little League board meeting and being welcomed warmly by two guys named Rob Beamer and Mike Paulson. They were both coaching their own boys at older levels and had clearly been on the same baseball journey upon which I was about to embark.

I coached Rob’s 2nd son for several seasons, giving me the chance to get to know him and his amazing family better. By the time I finally got to coach at the Little League Majors level, Rob was on the coaching staff at Medical Lake High School, so we got our two teams together for practice - allowing his High School boys the chance to mentor younger players, and giving my Little Leaguers a goal to which they could aspire. We had a hot dog barbecue right in the bleachers afterward. By this time cooking hot dogs had become natural to us...

Otto Throws out the 1st pitch of the 2012 WPLL season Spokane Indians mascot Otto throws out the ceremonial first pitch of the 2012 West Plains Little League season.

 

Some of my fondest memories with Rob are arriving on a usually frigid late April morning to prepare Salnave Park in Cheney for WPLL Opening Day. We did that together for about 7 years. On opening day,  we raked and lined the field; hung banners and bunting; organized ALL the teams, while coaching our own; MC'd the event... and yes, we cooked THOUSANDS of hot dogs.

The fact is that most Little League volunteers wear many hats in order to run their leagues every year and it truly "takes a village." As an advertising and marketing professional, the job of WPLL sponsorship coordinator was a natural fit for me, but even with 10+ years of sales experience, raising funds for the league was some of the most difficult work I have ever done. The small businesses in town found it hard to part with $300, and the chains and corporations all required multiple hoops and red-tape. It shouldn't be so difficult to get funding for such a positive, inclusive, and well-structured organization as Little League.

THIS is why it’s so important to me to give back to youth baseball and softball organizations – and why our partner program requires virtually no work from league volunteers. 

Captured

My final WPLL Opening Day in 2014, started by lining the field with Rob and ended with a surprise, as I was named the recipient of the inaugural Mike Paulson Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award - named for our old friend who had unexpectedly passed away the year before. It was a bittersweet day.

2014 WPLL Opening Day

Rob (l), Tad, and the inaugural Mike Paulson Volunteer of the Year Award at WPLL Opening Day 2014

 

Last spring, as my son and many of his Little League teammates and friends entered their Senior season at Cheney High School, Rob was named Head Baseball Coach. After all the years I coached his son, it was special to finally have him coach mine. When Rob gave me a baseball from his first win as CHS head coach – his alma mater – our near-decade of memories together came flooding back to me. I made a set of earrings each for his Mom and Wife from this baseball, and a money clip for him.

THIS is why it’s so important to me that we maintain the integrity of the baseballs and softballs with which we work, and give life to memories of your own.

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Curveball Keepsakes' first two youth league partners are West Plains Little League and the Cheney Baseball Association, where all of these memories were made. This puts us 98 away from our goal of 100 youth baseball and softball organization partnerships by the end of 2020.

It would certainly be much easier for us to simply donate a percentage of our sales to Little League International - but my goals are to make sure YOUR kids have the equipment they need; that YOUR league volunteers have the resources they need; and to help build YOUR community through youth baseball and softball.

I invite you to contact me directly at tad@curveballkeepsakes.com to find out how to start earning funds for YOUR league with Curveball Keepsakes!

Thank you!

Tad Richardson
Curveball Keepsakes
Founder – Owner – Artist

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