By David Heim 

The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the heat of a playoff race, and a key part of that hopeful team is reliever Mark Melancon. But Mark is making bigger contributions to his sport off the field than anything he can do on it. 

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Melancon is an ambassador for MLB, going to different countries to teach baseball.

“I’ve got to travel to New Zealand, Australia, China, South Africa,” Melancon said. “Being an ambassador for MLB has been awesome. I’ve met so many great kids. The passion for baseball in these different countries is really fun to see – different cultures.”

Melancon’s job might be to teach baseball, but he said he is learning more than the kids.

“I feel like I’ve taken more than I’ve given,” Melancon said. I go there to teach baseball and spread the word about baseball across the world but I get so much in return learning about different cultures and seeing what these kids are going through in different parts of the world.”

Throughout his travels, Mark and his wife have formed their own bucket list. 

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“My wife and I have a bucket list and on that bucket list somewhere was go diving with a great white shark,” Melancon said. “Well it’s not very safe, so you have to use a cage, so my wife and I decided to knock one of our bucket list items off.”

With that came the infamous shark tank in the Pirates clubhouse, sort of as a joke to Melancon’s daring stunt. But for Mark, it’s just something that has added to the passion of Pittsburgh sports.

“The energy in Pittsburgh is awesome,” Melancon said. “Every sport is heavily rooted for and people just want to go to a game and enjoy the atmosphere and watch their team.”

What Pirates fans should really enjoy too is what Melancon is bringing off of the field. 

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David Heim is a fan of the New England Patriots and New York Yankees. He’s also a contributor to CBS Local Sports and can be reached at or on Twitter @davidheim12.