(CC and Amber Sabathia with their four kids)

CC and Amber Sabathia with their four kids. Photo courtesy of Amber Sabathia


By Kim Constantinesco

Ask any professional athlete that has ever played for a New York area team. The microscope is as intense as the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Since 2009, Cy Young Award winner and six-time MLB all-star CC Sabathia has pitched in the City That Never Sleeps. As a member of the New York Yankees, his platform is Empire State Building big.

It would be easy for him to sit back, bask is the natural radiance of the city, and when it’s time to put on the glove, do his thing in the Bronx. He and his wife, Amber, do so much more than that, however.

If baseball had a power couple, CC and Amber might be it. Their influence extends far beyond the diamond all because they decided to pull from their difficult childhood experiences and make a difference in the lives of others.

CC and Amber started the PitCCh In Foundation, which aims to enrich the lives of inner city youth. CC serves as the co-founder while Amber is the co-founder and executive director of the foundation.

The couple first met where they grew up, in the inner city of Vallejo, Calif. They were raised by single mothers, and surrounded by the typical temptations that try to drag down inner city youth.

“While we both experienced negative elements with friends and family involved in violence, crime, and drug usage, CC was around it more,” Amber said. “As a male in the inner city, it’s almost expected to give in to the temptation and peer pressure to do bad things. CC was able to steer clear of falling into that trap because he had several mentors growing up who kept him motivated and focused. His older cousin, Demetrius, was a big influence in his life and helped him to stay out of trouble. CC would say that he was more like a big brother and always looked out for him.”

(CC Sabathia teaching kids some baseball fundamentals at his camp. Photo: PitCCh In)

CC Sabathia teaching kids some baseball fundamentals at his camp. Photo: PitCCh In Foundation

Demetrius passed away two years ago, and to honor his memory, the Sabathias ended up renovating the Vallejo basketball court that CC and Demetrius used to play on as kids.

As for Amber, growing up with very little money was her biggest struggle.

“We were always on a very tight budget and there was very little money to set aside for structured, extracurricular activities,” Amber said. “I knew being active would keep me out of trouble, so I would always look for free activities, scholarships or be the first to sign up for a school activity. It was hard because there were many times when there wasn’t anything we could afford. I am grateful for the ones I found, but no child should have to go without enriching opportunities, especially ones that will motivate their dreams.”

In high school, Amber was always on the honor roll, she volunteered in the community, and she was an active participant in numerous extracurricular activities.

“I knew this was the work I needed to do to ensure I went to college,” Amber said. “It wasn’t until I started the college application process that I learned about the application fees. I was so upset and felt like my options were being taken away because I couldn’t afford to pay for all the fees. I almost gave up, but then I learned about fee waivers for low-income families. I applied to as many schools as possible. I am a very proud graduate of San Francisco State University!”

CC and Amber were two resilient individuals who were able to avoid the gang/drug lifestyle, and yet they still struggled to move forward simply because of the lack of opportunities that they had.

CC and Amber’s combined experiences drove them to start the foundation. Some of PitCCh’s recent contributions include hosting 150 kids from the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club for an early screening of Disney’s Million Dollar Arm, and establishing the Backpack Program, where over 15,500 kids have received backpacks filled with school supplies and CC’s All-Star Book. The foundation also put on an All-Star Baseball Clinic in Vallejo at CC and Amber’s high school alma mater, where over 200 kids were gifted with a spot to learn baseball skills and teamwork. Amber also hosted 10 girls from the Woman’s Academy of Excellence, a Bronx area all girls public school, for prom dress shopping at Lord & Taylor, which was their reward for doing well in school and being active in the community. Finally, over $300,000 has been invested in renovating baseball fields and community spaces.

(Amber Sabathia takes girls shopping for prom dresses. Photo: PitCCh In Foundation)

Amber Sabathia takes girls shopping for prom dresses. Photo: PitCCh In Foundation

“No matter what I’m doing in life, whether it’s being a father, a husband, or a baseball player, I always want to be the best I can be,” CC said. “To be my best, I must always work hard, never give up and always give back to the community. I hope that inspires young people to do the same.”

CC and Amber are busy raising two sons and two daughters, and they hope that one day their kids will run PitCCh.

“My purpose in life is to be the best wife, mother, entrepreneur, and philanthropist,” Amber said. “Each role I take on becomes part of the greater whole, which must be nurtured. In my role as a philanthropist, I will always be hands-on and work hard to touch as many kids’ lives as possible—whether it’s one or thousands. One of the best gifts I can give myself is to give back and share with my family.”

All of the programs created in PitCCh aim to create enriching opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be had. Those opportunities allow resilience to shine and encourage kids to choose what they want to become rather than sitting back and living a “what happened to me” type of life.

As the Sabathia’s strive to make an impact in as many kids’ lives as possible with an intense fastball-like approach, ironically they’re teaching these kids that it’s not about how fast they succeed, but how quickly they can bounce back and recover.  

*** If you’re interested in getting involved with PitCCh In, visit www.PitCCh.org. You can:

·      Join Team 52 and volunteer with PitCCh to stuff backpacks, mentor kids, etc.

·      Support runners on the PitCCh Marathon Team in the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon on November 2nd at https://www.crowdrise.com/fundraise-and-volunteer/the-team/pitcchinfoundationNYC2014.

·      Support their annual fundraiser, the CC Challenge, which is modeled on “TV’s Amazing Race.” On November 8th, thirty (30) teams will join CC and Amber to compete in a series of unique challenges throughout New York’s Central Park in a fast-paced scavenger hunt filled with surprises around every corner.  The event is open to all ages, so it can be a real family affair or team building experience. Individual teams can be purchased and corporate sponsorship is available.