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Amber Sabathia The wife of New York Yankees star CC Sabathia is becoming an ace of philanthropy

     Amber Sabathia learned very quickly what it would be like to be the wife of a Major League player. “When I was a junior in college, CC proposed to me,” she remembered. “We wanted to keep it a big secret. We were going to go the courthouse to get married, and then the following year, we would have a big reception. We went to the courthouse on one of CC’s off days. Later that night, when we were watching the news, we see a scroll across the bottom that says ‘Cleveland bachelor CC Sabathia got married today.’ I said, ‘Well, I guess maybe we should tell people.’”
     Amber laughs about the story now, but at the time, it was a revelation that her life was going to change. She never imagined how important a high school house party would be in her hometown of Vallejo, CA as well. “I was in 10th Grade and CC was in the 11th Grade,” describing the party in which she was introduced to CC for the first time. “We became friends. I mean, you can’t take dating that seriously in high school.”
     CC would soon finish high school and head to the minor leagues. Amber would finish the following year and attend San Diego State to pursue a degree in Liberal Studies on the way to becoming a teacher. But despite the growing geographical distance, they became closer as a couple. “When CC was off from baseball, he would visit me at school,’ Amber remembers. “When I was off from school, I would visit him. We were never apart for more than 3 months.”
     They would get married and have four children. After having her first son and daughter, Amber went back to school to finish her degree. She hopes in the future to pursue a Masters degree in Education. “When my youngest turns four,” she says, “I’d like to go back and fulfill that dream."
     CC’s success on the mound would lead him to a multi-year free agent contract with the New York Yankees. And as their storybook romance continues to get better, they’ve done their best to help others enjoy their own story.
     “A few years ago, we went back home and were driving by the North Vallejo Little League field and the field was horrible,” Amber says. “It wasn’t playable. There were only 50 kids in the league. It was a bit of a mess. CC said to his mom, ‘Some of my best memories were here, with dad coaching and you working the concession stands, it made such a difference.’” Wanting to give back, CC wrote a check to the league to fix the field. A year later, when they passed the field again during a visit home, the field was still in disarray. When CC asked where the money had gone, there were no answers. That was when Amber knew she needed to help as well.
     “I sat down with CC’s mom and said, “Look, we want to make a difference. But if we are going to give money to this, we want to make sure it goes in the right place. We need to make sure it makes a difference.” And thus, the Pitcch In Foundation was born. The field has since been renovated. CC’s mom is now back at her post managing the concession stands. Over 350 kids are thriving in the league now, complete with an African-American Major Leaguer to serve as their role model.
     “CC loves to tell the story about how Dave Stewart came to talk to him and other kids at the Boys and Girls Club,” Amber says. “Here was a guy who was pitching in the big leagues and who had come from the Bay Area. CC felt if Dave could do it, maybe he could do it too.”
     The Pitcch In Foundation has now grown well beyond that little league field to include other programs in Vallejo, as well as in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium and in New Jersey, where the Sabathias live. With Amber as Executive Director, the foundation is poised to give away its 10,000th backpack this year to kindergarten kids who need supplies for school. They’ve also raised money for Boys and Girls Clubs, both in California and New Jersey.
     And closest to Amber’s heart is the Christmas Caravan that has become an annual tradition. Over four days, the foundation tries to help people of every age group. Last year, they helped garden at a senior center, took at-risk teenagers from foster homes to get sporting equipment and to mentor them, and helped refurbish a play area for a youth family services facility. “I had tears in my eyes for the full four days,” Amber says. “I don’t think I’ve been as touched by anything else we’ve done.”
     So how does Amber juggle the family responsibilities of a Major League life, where dad has to travel, four kids have to get to school, and a foundation needs to be run efficiently to help others? “I tell people, my office hours are from 11-3,” Amber says. “During that time, you can catch me. But when that bus rolls up at 3 p.m., my job changes from Executive Director to Mom. The kids have baseball, basketball and dance classes. Baseball is going to come and go. It’s a short part of our life. It’s given so much to us; we know we have a responsibility to go back. But after baseball is long gone, we’ll always have our family. That’s what’s most important.”