Pirates and Marauders lend a hand to Bradenton hospitals

The teams bought pizzas from two area shops and delivered them to healthcare workers at two local facilities.
Ray Morris, the Pirates' director of Florida operations, readies the order at Demetrios’ Pizza House.
Ray Morris, the Pirates' director of Florida operations, readies the order at Demetrios’ Pizza House. [ Courtesy Bradenton Marauders ]
Published Mar. 30, 2020

Having made Bradenton their second home for more than 50 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates teamed up with their minor-league Marauders affiliate to lend a hand to area hospitals.

Following up on what their players did in Pittsburgh, the Pirates and Marauders on Friday ordered 400 pizzas from two local shops, Fastfire by Oak & Stone and Demetrios’ Pizza House, and had their staff deliver them to workers at the Blake Medical Center and Manatee Memorial Hospital.

“What our players did in Pittsburgh I thought was just a really, really cool gesture to a couple of small business and then our hospitals,” said Jeff Podobnik, the Pirates’ vice president of Florida and Dominican operations. “When that story broke and I saw what our players did, we just felt the desire to duplicate that.”

Team officials in Pittsburgh agreed to pick up the tab through its charitable foundation, and the Bradenton-based staff team reached out to Oak & Stone, which is a sponsor, and through the Manatee chamber to Demetrios, a long-time area establishment.

“We felt like these are two small businesses that could use the support, and it was our way of saying thank you to the doctors and nurses of Manatee County,” Podobnik said. “I kind of have a soft spot because my own son is a nurse also and I’ve got a feel for what these nurses and doctors are having to go through right now. ... We felt it was a win-win all the way around.”

Their kindness was appreciated given the broad impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Carly Baez of the Pirates staff delivered pizzas from Oak & Stone to an area hospital.
Carly Baez of the Pirates staff delivered pizzas from Oak & Stone to an area hospital. [ Courtesy Bradenton Marauders ]

“We are thrilled with the kindness the Pittsburgh Pirates and Bradenton Marauders leadership, staff and players are showing our day and night teams, during this healthcare crisis," Manatee Memorial CEO Kevin DiLallo said in a release from the teams. “Their generosity to not only help hospitals’ staff but local business is much appreciated.”

Overall, the teams fed close to 1,500 people, providing lunch at Blake, and lunch and dinner at Manatee Memorial.

Pizza House owner Gus Sokos said the order of 250 pizzas allowed him to re-hire some staff.

“The restaurant and hospitality industry has been devastated over the last 2 1/2 weeks. We recently had to make decisions with staff members whose lives may be impacted forever," he said in the team release. "Our spirits, along with those in the healthcare profession, are getting drained from the uncertainty that this virus has brought. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Bradenton Marauders are a first-class organization and it was an honor to partner with them to help lift the morale of these individuals who have dedicated their lives to caring for others.

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“The Pirates’ extraordinary gesture personally effected our business as we doubled the staff that we have been employing since the Governor’s order to terminate on-site food consumption. We hope that this positive energy will help increase business traffic during these difficult times so that we return more employees to permanent work.”