It’s a new Pitch! In celebration of its eighth year “pitching in for Detroit,” Federation’s NEXTGen Detroit will kick off “Pitch Under the Lights” – a night of good sports and fundraising at the new Corner Ballpark, (formerly the old Tiger Stadium) in Detroit. All funds raised this year by kickball tournament players, their fans and cheerleaders will go directly to the neighborhood organization Brilliant Detroit and its literacy programming. Kickoff: 6:30 pm, August 15th. Registration and details online.

THE EVENT: Everyone can play!

Pitch for Detroit
Getting ready with a fast pitch for the event: Here’s Blair Schwartz, avid kickball player and Pitch Co-Chair.

Hard to believe it was eight years ago when Federation’s NEXTGen Detroit threw that first “Pitch for Detroit.” At the time, the event was a one-day charity softball tournament, co-founded by NEXTGen Detroit President-Elect Adam Blanck and Benjy Gordon, with the goal “to reconnect the growing numbers of young adults returning to metro Detroit and engage them with the community through sports and philanthropy.”

That first Pitch was a smash hit. Nearly 160 players and 500 spectators turned out for a day at Drake Park and raised nearly $50,000. Since then, the format has changed to a friendly tournament of kickball and field games (because everyone can play and everyone loves kickball and cornhole). “We are re-imagining this year’s Pitch with a weekday format and field games to complement kickball,” said Zack Slabotsky, Pitch Under the Lights Co-Chair with Abby Rubin and Blair Schwartz. “This way, teams will have more to do between games and we’ll be better able to include participants.”

“Pitch has worked its way into the vernacular of young Jewish Detroiters. We now celebrate it as one of NEXGen Detroit’s iconic events and plan it every summer to showcase and celebrate new developments in our city. Pitch is about the future of Detroit, proof positive that it’s a great time to return, work, live and play here.– Adam Blanck, NEXTGen Detroit President-Elect.  

With more than $250,000 in funds raised for projects and organizations in Detroit over the past seven years, Pitch continues to build on its legacy as a NEXTGen Detroit signature event, empowering the next generation of civic leaders to strengthen and sustain exciting new developments in the city. Past years’ funds have helped support the neighborhood hub at the Mack Lot; added improvements to Bradby Park; provided vital safety equipment to Firehouse Engine 33/Ladder 13; subsidized rents for young adults moving into the city and awarded micro-grants to small businesses and nonprofits seeking to improve the city.

THE WOW FACTOR: A fun-filled night under the lights

With its dramatic change of venue and timing this year, Pitch takes the field inside The Corner Ballpark at the old Tiger Stadium – new headquarters for the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) and home of the Willie Horton Field of Dreams in Corktown.   “When the sun goes down, August 15th, we plan to light up the night,” said Abby Rubin. “There will be eight teams at tournament play and plenty for fans to enjoy, with ballpark food from Chef Cari, music and classic field games everyone can play.”

Pitch Under the Lights
A preview of the “Field of Dreams” at The Corner Stadium: L-R, Justin Jacobs (Come Play Detroit) Lauren Rubin (NEXTGen Detroit), Abby Rubin and Zack Slabotsky (Co-Chairs) and Tori Ramataboee, (Come Play Detroit).

Commenting on the new venue for Pitch and the change of format from a grassroots fundraiser to an evening out downtown, Justin Jacobs, CEO of Come Play Detroit and principal organizer of the tournament, said, “We couldn’t have chosen a hotter destination in the city for this year’s Pitch. We’re playing on brand new turf in a beautiful stadium—really showcasing the impact of NEXTGen Detroit’s new level of engagement in neighborhood developments downtown.”

After Pitch, everyone is invited to celebrate on the patio at McShane’s Irish Pub & Whiskey, where 10% of sales from Pitch players and fans will be donated to Brilliant Detroit.

“We’re thrilled to host Pitch Under the Lights at the Corner Ballpark. To play on Detroit’s new Field of Dreams this year goes to show just how far NEXTGen Detroit has come to play a part in the resurgence of our city.” – Blair Schwartz, Event Co-Chair     

THE PLAYING FIELD: New turf with a proud history

The Corner Ballpark at the site of the Old Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbell has a long storied history. Today it stands as a showcase for Detroit’s resurgence and neighborhood redevelopment, a destination for tourists and a new field playing host to sports leagues, tournaments throughout the region, summer camps and Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) programming year-round for kids from every corner of Detroit.

“I was a PAL kid myself and I know it takes a village to support and sustain our mission,” said Robert Jamerson, Chief Operating Officer, Detroit PAL. After more than 20 years in operations and marketing at Pfizer, Robert came aboard Detroit PAL, inspired to change the trajectory of his career after the birth of his son.  “In keeping with my life balance, I took some time off and reached out to Tim Richie, PAL CEO,” he explained. “During our conversation, he was trying to sell me, but I was already sold on what I wanted to do. There were a couple of zeroes in salary transition, but it’s been definitely fulfilling work.”

“The transformation of our historic site is for everyone, from little leaguers to future all-stars. We’re proud to give the next generation a chance to play where some of the greats have played.”  Robert Jamerson, Chief Operating Officer, Detroit PAL

THE CAUSE: Working and playing together for a Brilliant Detroit

Family centered, neighborhood-based, Brilliant Detroit is dedicated to building “kid success” where families with children 0-8 have what they need to be school ready, healthy and stable. They do this by providing proven programming and year-round support out of their Brilliant Detroit houses in high-need neighborhoods.

Founded by Carolyn and Jim Bellinson in 2015, Brilliant Detroit opened the doors to a radically new approach to kindergarten readiness in neighborhoods. “It is common knowledge that there is an acute need to provide better educational options for families in Detroit,” said Jim Bellinson. “We saw an opportunity to create a unique delivery model in our approach to early childhood development by using underutilized housing stock to create early child and family centers in neighborhoods.”

Brilliant Detroit has 75 organizational partners that conduct evidence-based programming at each of its three home sites, and many of these organizations have a literacy focus. Examples of Brilliant Detroit literacy programs include: ABC Mouse, Family Reading Journey, Individual Tutoring, LENA Start, Pathways to Literacy, Play and Learns, Raising a Reader and Reading is Fundamental.


Come play, come cheer.  . . . go online and register as a team player for Pitch Under the Lights. Spectators don’t need to register, but can learn more and donate to Brilliant Detroit. Call or visit online.

To learn more about Detroit PAL, take a tour or visit online.