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Steppin’ Up to the Plate with the Texas Playboys

The Austin sandlot baseball team shows their dedication to community impact on and off the field

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The Texas Playboys (photo by Roger Ho)

Anyone that’s had a chance to make it to a Texas Playboys game knows how fun it is for all ages, whether they are baseball enthusiasts or not. TRIBEZA contributor Kelly Krause recently chatted with Texas Playboys Baseball Club founder Jack Sanders and his Steppin’ Up to the Plate committee – Elizabeth Pecore, Tippi Clark, Austin McCord, Chelsey Korman, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ashley Southerland – to learn more about their community impact program and what’s in store for 2024.

(photo by Roger Ho)

Texas Playboys in conversation with Kelly Krause

The Founding of the Texas Playboys Baseball Club

“I wanted to show my friends a special type of community baseball that I was exposed to when I lived in Newbern, Alabama, a small town with 200 residents, but on Sundays, the Newbern Baseball Club would have 400 to 500 people at their games, with music, beer, and fried catfish.” shared Playboys’ founder, Jack Sanders. 

Texas Playboys Baseball Club (photo by Roger Ho)

Giving Back Through the Steppin’ Up to the Plate Initiative 

“For a while, it was just about baseball,” Sanders continued. “Our inspiration was from the Newbern Baseball Club, who used the money they raised at the gate to provide “dignified burials” to the community by providing flowers and sometimes sent the ball team out to dig the graves by hand. At some point, we realized that if we wanted to do justice to this effort, we had to introduce a service element to our organization. This effort, called Steppin’ Up to the Plate, (SUTTP) is approaching $200,000 in funds raised for local nonprofits over the last 5 seasons.” 

“Service has always been a part of Texas Playboys’ DNA, noted members of the SUTTP committee. “Formalizing the Steppin’ Up committee was just a way to structure our giving and attempt to focus on charities that can feel the impact of the proceeds. It’s the sandlot approach to philanthropy – party with a purpose! Most of the committee members are creative people with a passion for giving back.”

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Texas Playboys Baseball Club (photo by Roger Ho)

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Texas Playboys Baseball Club
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Texas Playboys (Photo by Roger Ho)

A Committee of Do-Gooders

“The SUTTP committee is a group of Texas Playboys and friends who volunteer their time to vet, select, and support our nonprofit game-day partners. We are also focused on their long-term success and try to shed light on the great work they do in the broader ATX community. So the committee formed as a collaborative effort and helped us work as a club instead of as individuals.The group consists of creative, resourceful, and connected weirdos with a heart for our central Texas nonprofit community. Today, we have a core group of six who meet every Wednesday at the Uptown Sports Club over biscuits and coffee,” shared members of the committee.

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(photo by Roger Ho)

Impactful Giving to Community Partners

The Texas Playboys philanthropic efforts have raised somewhere in the ballpark of $200,000. A lot of the work is focused on the marginalized populations of Central Texas. 

SUTTP committee members noted, “We are also fortunate to have a strong support network of very generous Austin-based brands and organizations who have partnered with us. Tito’s has been an invaluable partner over the years and provides a matching contribution for each gameday non-profit sponsor. Still Austin, Sabah, TLC, McGuire Moorman Hospitality, and many others are very generous supporters.”

“This year, we are streamlining our giving efforts to make giving even more “sandlot”, added team members. ”We work to keep it communal and fun. This includes everything from gathering goods from our supporting partners for raffle baskets to encouraging and educating our community and network about how simple and simultaneously fun this model can be.”

Texas Playboys Baseball Club (photo by Roger Ho)

The Long Time Offers a Truly Authentic Austin Experience

“It could be argued that Texas Playboy home games at The Long Time are the embodiment of everything that makes Austin special to so many of people,” noted SUTTP committee member Carlos Gonzalez. ”If you are looking for a truly authentic Austin experience, The Long Time is difficult to match. There’s always amazing food and drink from Scholz Garten, unbelievable live-music performances by talented Austin musicians, and the opportunity to support our gameday nonprofit partner. That’s not to mention watching a wonderful, error-filled, baseball game, from a team that cares for one another, our community, our neighbors, and the city we live in.” 

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(photo by Roger Ho)

Gonzalez continued, “You don’t have to love baseball to come out to the game – it’s a time to connect with other Austinites and remember when life was simple and people engaged with one another around one of the greatest pastimes in existence. It’s the only place in Austin where kids get to run the field with watermelon helmets, with a backdrop of Willie Nelson, catch a flying biscuit from the Little Ola’s biscuit cannon and remember there are still people who share a sense of community, and a desire to connect over baseball, art, music, and culture.”

(Photo by Roger Ho)

To view the game schedule and learn about ways you can get involved, visit www.thelongtime.com.

RELATED: Texas Playboys Founder Jack Sanders Brings Makers Together at His Field of Dreams