Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly is ready to step up to the plate at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Corporate Roast
By Katie Green  |  Photography by Cayla Zahoran

Pirates Charities
In addition to Big Brothers Big Sisters, Coonelly is heavily involved in Pirates Charities, whose mission is to improve the health, fitness, and education of youth. “This year’s signature projects were helping to build three new Miracle League Fields in the region, which are specialized fields in which children with special needs can play baseball, often for the first time,” he explains. Pirates Charities has also been instrumental in renovating many area fields, through its Fields for Kids program, which provides matching grants to Little Leagues and baseball associations. “This year, Pirates Charities will give back more than $800,000 to the community. It’s an obligation that we take seriously.”

When Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly sits in the hot seat at this month’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh’s Corporate Roast, he knows that he will be providing the roasters plenty of material. “When I was asked to do this, I said, ‘How could I say no?’ I’ve provided such good material from the four years that I’ve been with the Pirates,” Coonelly says. “It will be all in good fun, but I better brush off my old attorney skills and be ready for a strong rebuttal case against each and every roaster!”

Coonelly practiced as an attorney at a private firm before going in-house with Major League Baseball as the general council of labor relations for 10 years, working closely with the commissioner and all 30 major league clubs. When chairman of the board and principal owner Bob Nutting asked him to join the Pirates as president, he saw a great opportunity — and realizes that he wouldn’t be where he is today without his mentors.

“I understand that everybody needs mentors in life, whether you’re a kid or adult — particularly kids who may not have someone in their life to provide that guidance. Friendship is something that’s critically important, and something that nobody does better than Big Brothers Big Sisters,” he says.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Frank and his team on our Annual Corporate Roast. He embodies the type of individual we strive to celebrate — one who sees the value in helping others reach their potential,” says Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO Jan Glick. “He understands that one-to-one mentoring is a wise investment for children and also for our community.”

This past Pirates season, despite its early success, is sure to come up. But, Coonelly says that the organization is already looking to next year to “get it right.” It was the first glimpse that he — and a good bit of the city’s population — saw of Pittsburgh being a baseball town once again. “We’ve always known that it was there, but obviously, we hadn’t put the product on the field to reenergize our fan base. Seeing a full house at PNC Park and energized fans passionately displaying their pride for the Pirates just redoubled our efforts to make sure that we figure out how to make the changes necessary with the club to play that type of baseball for six months,” Coonelly says.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Corporate Roast, November 9 at PNC Park. 412.363.6100. bbbspittsburgh.org. Pittsburgh Pirates, pirates.com.

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