It's the first time the Savannah Sand Gnats have seen a standing ovation after the first pitch. That's probably because Gregory J. Hartmayer, Franciscan bishop of Savannah, threw it in front of more than 1,500 Catholics in attendance for a charity night at Grayson Stadium for the Sand Gnats vs. the Asheville Tourists game. Barbara King, director of communications for the diocese, said the bishop had a combination of practice and experience on his side. “He practiced on Tuesday with the Benedictine Military School baseball team, who won state baseball this year,” King told CNA June 5. “He also played some baseball in his youth, so he did a good job both at practice and at the game.” The Savannah diocese partnered with the Sand Gnats to host a Catholic charity night during the game. King said the diocese bought 1,500 tickets to distribute to Catholics in the parishes, but even more turned up for the event. More than 2,000 pounds of food were collected at the game for the Savannah Social Apostolate, an outreach of the Diocese of Savannah that serves the poor and the homeless. “The Sand Gnats said it was the largest charity night they’ve ever had,” King said. The diocese got the idea for the baseball charity event from a few other dioceses in the region. This year was the first year the Diocese of Savannah tried such an event. “It was terrific night and a great way to get the Catholic community together for a good cause,” King said. “We’ll definitely do this again next year.”
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