Appy League notes: 13 missing kids found through ballpark signage

Photo courtesy of Appy League
The Bairfind effort is featuring posters at minor league baseball parks this summer to bring missing kids home.

By Marty Gordon

Probably everyone has seen missing kids on cartons of milk. Well, many minor league baseball teams took this effort to a second step this season by posting the pictures of missing children at ball parks.

The Appalachian League, which includes the Pulaski Yankees, jumped head-first in the program called “BairFind,” and so far, 13 missing kids have been located thanks to the rookie league effort.

After one month, three children were located locally via the Yankees posting them at the ballpark.

The BairFind Foundation is an official charity partner of Minor League Baseball, that crowdsources the search for missing children by putting their profile picture in highly trafficked public places like Minor League Baseball stadiums.

BairFind founder, former minor league pitcher Dennis Bair, emphasizes that the Bairfind mission is to find missing kids using signage in sports stadiums and arenas that feature photos of each city’s missing children.

Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport and Motor Mile Field at Calfee Park in Pulaski are separated by just 123 miles. The Mets and Yankees have competed at the Rookie-advanced level in the Appalachian League since 2015, with Pulaski holding a 16-8 lead in the all-time head-to-head record between teams.

The two teams announced today the Big Apple-achian Rivalry, bringing the Mets-Yankees July 26 Subway Series to the Appalachian League. The rivalry will begin Friday when Pulaski visits Kingsport for the first of six matchups between the Yankees and Mets during the 2019 season.

In addition to the on-field competition during the 2019 season, the Big Apple-achian Rivalry, according to Pulaski General Manager Betsy Haugh, will also pit fanbases of the two teams against each other with competition to collect items for local non-profits. The Mets will collect donations July 26-28, specifically baby items, benefitting the non-profit Hope House. Similarly, the Yankees will collect donations for the Salvation Army when the Mets come to Pulaski August 15-17.

Both teams will hand out Big Apple-achian t-shirts, with the Kingsport giveaway presented by Chick-fil-A and Johnson City Eye Clinic scheduled for Saturday, July 27 (first 300 fans) and Pulaski’s on Saturday, August 17 (first 500 fans). Pulaski will also wear specialty jerseys inspired by the New York City skyline during the series at Calfee Park August 15-17, which will be auctioned off online following the conclusion of the series with proceeds benefiting the Friends of Calfee Park 501(c)3 non-profit.

Lewis-Gale and Carilion hospitals will be playing for bragging rights in an August 11 charity softball game labeled “Homers for Hearts” and will benefit the American Heart Association.

“It’s wonderful to see our local health systems come together in support of our mission to create a healthier community and longer, healthier lives for all,” said Ashley Ege, Director of the American Heart Association of Western Virginia. “Donations raised from the game will help the American Heart Association fund critical heart disease and stroke research and education that will save lives.”

The game will begin at 2 p.m. with gates opening at 1 p.m. Physicians, nurses, and administrators will suit up for each hospital during the nine-inning contest.

If the season would end today, Pulaski and Burlington would be the two East representatives, and Elizabethton and Johnson City in the West. Pulaski holds a five-game lead over Burlington and seems to be a lock to host a playoff game in the next two weeks.

Kingsport and Bristol remain within striking distance in the west, and Bristol is getting a little help by a new assignment, catcher Ethan Goforth, a Blacksburg High School graduate.