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Jun 3, 2014 3:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Seats Of Dreams Treats 220 To Ducks Baseball Game

Jun 3, 2014 3:12 PM

A gust of fresh air swept through Bethpage Ballpark on Monday night as the Long Island Ducks prepared to take on the visiting Lancaster Barnstormers. The crowd shuffled in early, with some hoping to get an autograph, or snag a foul ball during batting practice.When the first pitch was finally thrown at 6:35 p.m., 15 young fans from the Freeport area waved their freshly signed foam fingers and cutouts of the Ducks’ mascot, QuackerJack. A few, like Gabriella, had seen a baseball game before. But for most of the kids in the group, who are affiliated with the Freeport Salvation Army and its outreach program, Monday’s game was their first time visiting the ball field in Central Islip.

Their tickets were among the 220 that were donated through Seats of Dreams, a national non-profit organization that provides tickets to sporting events and shows to underprivileged children and their families. Friends David Bieber and Clint Greenbaum, both of whom hail from Westhampton Beach, started the organization in 2012 with the intention of convincing those who hold season tickets to Major League Baseball games to donate their unused tickets to those who otherwise could not afford them.

In the past two years, Mr. Bieber and Mr. Greenbaum have managed to establish relationships with various MLB organizations, from the New York Yankees to the Florida Marlins, in which unused tickets eventually find their way to local charities. Mr. Greenbaum, a Kansas City Royals fan, and Mr. Bieber, a die-hard New York Yankees fan, developed the idea for Seats of Dreams because of their love of the ballparks and the game.

“You never forget your first baseball game,” Mr. Greenbaum explained on Monday night.

Tickets can be donated on www.seatsofdreams.org and, as the word has spread, more and more tickets have been pouring in, according to Mr. Greenbaum. In addition to sporting events, donors have been contributing tickets to concerts and musicals.

Monetary donations collected by the group are also used to purchase tickets, mostly to baseball games.

And, as shown on Monday night, tickets to all levels of baseball are welcome by both the organization and young fans.

“It’s a beautiful group effort,” Mr. Greebaum noted.

On Monday night, the Long Island Ducks organization donated 150 tickets to Seat of Dreams. The non-profit also used monetary donations to purchase another 60 tickets to the game.

Another group that took advantage of the program included 10 kids who are currently staying at a shelter in Commack. Those children, who were between nine and 13 years of age, had to make the honor roll at their school in order to attend Monday’s game, according to Rebecca Carbone, one of the chaperones for the group.

“I really like being able to see the Ducks in action,” said one 13-year-old boy from Commack, who was not permitted to share his name.

Another member of the group, a 12-year-old boy also staying at the shelter, noted that he was attending his second baseball game. He also confessed that he was most excited to get the see the fireworks after the game, which the Ducks went on to win, 9-2.

Seats of Dreams also donates tickets to local charities and families.

Andrew Sussman, 18, of North Babylon received three tickets to Monday’s game. He was born with a brain tumor and has endured multiple surgeries. He and his mother, Bonny, have known Mr. Greenbaum for years because of his philanthropy work with young men and women who have also suffered brain injuries.

Mr. Sussman noted that Monday marked the first time he has gotten to see a game through Seats of Dreams—and he was not disappointed.

“It’s awesome,” said Mr. Sussman, who hoped the catch a foul ball before the evening was over. “I’m really enjoying it.”

Mr. Greenbaum noted that his organization is set to give away an estimated 11,000 tickets this baseball season. “We’re creating great fans,” he added.

Ducks’ tickets typically sell for between $11 and $15 each, and this year marks the first time that Seats of Dreams is partnering with the organization. The Ducks donate, on average, about 10 tickets to the non-profit for each home game, a partnership that box office manager Ben Harper said he would like to see continue in the future.

Seats of Dreams also works with a large number of local charities, including the Family Service League, a Long Island non-profit that helps families struggling with homelessness, unemployment and mental illness.

“The baseball games allow families to come together for a special day at the ballpark—many have never had this opportunity before,” Tricia O’Hare, the East End director of development for the Family Service League, wrote in an email. “Seats of Dreams’ efforts work well with the FSL mission of helping Long Island families mobilize their strengths and improve the quality of their lives at home and in the community.”

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