by Susan Cornell
Do you have baseball equipment which could be used by kids who don’t have any of their own? Are there gloves, bats, balls, helmets, bases, catcher’s equipment, uniforms, cleats, hats, and socks bursting out of the closets? And can you imagine the looks on the faces of disadvantaged children in third world countries if the equipment just collecting dust at your home was in their hands?
The question is how to get baseball equipment from point A (your digs) to point B (places such as Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela and Uganda).
The Connecticut Tigers, the Class A Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, steps up to the plate and serves as a collection hub for Roberto’s Kids, an international nonprofit organization named after Roberto Clemente.
“Our mission is social responsibility through baseball. We collect baseball equipment from the U.S. and Canada and distribute it to disadvantaged youth in Latin American countries, the U.S. and around the world,” explains Roberto’s Kids Founder Steve Pindar.
Roberto’s Kids started in 1999. By 2012 it had distributed 45 tons of equipment to youth in the U.S., Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela and Uganda.
Pindar adds, “It’s an absolute pleasure working with C.J. Knudsen, (VP & GM), Eric Knighton, (VP & Assistant GM), and everyone at the Tigers. We couldn’t do what we do without groups like theirs. Our volunteers are the backbone of Roberto’s Kids.”
For the past three years, Steve McManus, now a senior at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, RI, has led drives in conjunction with Roberto’s Kids and then delivers hundreds of pounds of equipment to the Tigers.
“They made the process very easy. They welcomed me to the field and gave me a tour. I am a senior now and I hope to pursue this drive at the college level,” McManus said.
The Connecticut Tigers have been working with Roberto’s Kids since 2010, when the Tigers came to Dodd Stadium in Norwich.
“Every year it gets larger and larger and more involved with Roberto’s Kids, and for us that’s what minor league baseball in a community is all about,” says C.J. Knudsen.
The Tigers collect not only through drives in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, but also from those who drop off equipment at the stadium.
A shipment went to Nicaragua in March. “We put the gear on pallets ourselves and shrink-wrap it, then help them load it. It was a hands-on project for us.”
Knudsen said that if people are cleaning out, the Tigers will take equipment at any time—at the games at the Citizens Bank Informational Booth or at the front office.
Said Knudsen, “We love the sport of baseball and anything we can do to help kids from around the world enjoy baseball, get some exercise, and create some friendships, for us it’s a home run.”
The Haddam-Killingworth Leo Club (affiliated with the Lions) is holding a collection drive in Killingworth on Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 860.663.3095.