Ball Burglar History
And So It Goes...
It was the summer of 2004, and Bills fans again were hoping this year would be different, hoping this would be the year when the Bills began making real progress toward pro football glory. Fans on the message board at www.BuffaloBills.com were no different. They talked about the new coach, they talked about Drew Bledsoe and Travis Henry and Willis McGahee. And they talked about the defense. The problem with the defense, they said, was that they didn't get any takeaways. Everyone knew takeaways were the key to winning in the NFL, and the Bills were worst in the league in takeaways in 2003. The question was whether this defense could turn that around.
One day a mysterious figure appeared on the message board. He called himself the Ball Burglar. Even by message board standards, the Ball Burglar was weird. His very first post began with a simple proposition:
"You want takeaways. I'll get more takeaways." Other posters responded "what are you talking about?"
The Burglar repeated the promise. He would get takeaways for the Bills.
Posters said he was an idiot. Posters said it was a joke. But people kept reading the Ball Burglar's thread. He was funny. He knew football. He knew the personalities of people on the board. And he kept promising to get takeaways.
The thread went on for days. It became clear that the Ball Burglar presented a riddle. Posters were supposed to figure out how the Ball Burglar would get more takeaways for the Bills. First someone guessed that we, the fans, had to PAY the Ball Burglar for takeaways.
Then he said it. Yes, we had to pay for takeaways. If the fans paid for takeaways, the Ball Burglar would deliver more takeaways.
"What!?!!" posters howled. "This guy's crazy. How is he going to get more takeaways? And why should we pay him." But that wasn't all. The Ball Burglar wanted the fans to wear burglar masks at Ralph Wilson Stadium and in sports bars. Burglar masks as a signal to the Bills to steal the football. So that was it. The Ball Burglar wanted Bills fans to wear masks at the game and to promise to pay for takeaways, one dollar, two dollars, whatever, per takeaway. At the end of the season, the fans would pay what they promised, and the Ball Burglar would give the money to two charities: Hunter's Hope and Carly's Club. Buffalo charities to help sick kids.
The Ball Burglar visited the message board from time to time during the 2004 season and kept promising more turnovers for money. And some posters promised to pay for takeaways. By the end of the season, 17 posters had promised to pay. Not a lot, just 17 fans who believed that if we all pay for takeaways, the Bills will get more. And a funny thing happened that year. The Bills led the league in takeaways! They went from worst to first in the year that the Ball Burglar first promised more takeaways.
That's how it began. Every year since then, fans have promised to pay for takeaways, and the Ball Burglar has delivered. Fans wear burglar masks at the tailgate parties and at the games. Fans in masks were on the Jumbo-tron in the Stadium. The Ball Burglar has been on television. The Ball Burglar has a theme song. The Ball Burglar now has a website (www.ballburglar.com) where fans join the gang and use their credit cards to pay for takeaways. Many promise just one dollar per takeaway. About $30 a year. Some promise more - $2, $3 or $5. Fans have paid thousands of dollars for takeaways.
The Ball Burglar has his own corporation, Ballbur, Inc. It's registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a charity, so every dollar fans pay for takeaways is tax deductible. The Ball Burglar's favorite charities are Hunter's Hope and Carly's Club. Hunter's Hope was founded by Jim Kelly's family to help children stricken with Krabbe's disease, the same disease that took the life of Hunter Kelly. Carly's Club supports care and research for children with cancer at the Roswell Park Cancer Center. The Ball Burglar isn't done. He won't be done until thousands of fans are wearing masks in the Stadium and thousands of fans are paying for takeaways.
When the Bills return to NFL glory, the Ball Burglar will be there.
BallBur Inc. was incorporated in Connecticut in 2005. It does business under the name Ball Burglar.
BallBur, Inc. has received a determination letter from the United States Internal Revinue Service certifying that BallBur, Inc. is a charitable organization under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Gifts to BallBur, Inc. are tax deductable.
The Ball Burglar is run completely by volunteers.
The Ball Burglar's only fees ae bank fees, credit card system fees, and incidental miscelaneous expenses.
On $10,000 donated, expenses total less than 20%. As donations go up, the percentage spent on systems goes down.
Donations in recent years:
- 2007: $10,000
- 2008: $11,000
- 2009: $9,000
- 2010: $3,000
- 2011: $6,500
Board of Directors
Mark Korber, Harford, Connecticut
Bernard O'Connor, Rochester, New York
Andrew Pisciotti, Washington, DC
The Bottom LineThe Ball Burglars are ordinary Bills fans united by an extraordinary purpose: helping sick children.
We want touchdowns and turnovers so badly that we're paying for them! We've put a bounty on the football! (After all, it does say Wilson on it! The football belongs to Ralph.) Our members make pledges, $1, $2, whatever they choose, for every turnover or touchdown that the Bills get! We also pay up double for any takeaway returned for a TD, or a TD that goes for more than 40 yards. You can donate for touchdowns, takeaways, or both!
And the best part is: the Ball Burglar doesn't want the bounty for himself! He gives it to organizations that help sick kids. The Ball Burglar is a huge supporter of important Western New York organizations that help sick kids and their families, like Hunter's Hope and Carly's Club.
Join us! You'll get the satisfaction of knowing that every time our favorite team gets a touchdown or takeaway, we're not only helping the Bills, we're helping change the lives of sick children in Western, NY and beyond.