The Oriole Advocates yesterday shipped more than 4,000 pounds of new and used baseball equipment to the Dominican Republic, the final step of their "Cardboard to Leather" drive.
Inspired by a series of Sun articles detailing the desperate poverty of thousands of baseball-playing youths in the Dominican, many of whom use gloves made of cardboard, the Advocates collected equipment for a week earlier this month at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Carlos Bernhardt, the Orioles scout in the Dominican, will distribute the equipment in his hometown of San Pedro de Macoris. Catholic Relief Services will assist with distribution throughout the rest of the country.
According to Chuck Lippy, who organized the program for the Advocates, they collected 380 gloves, 663 bats, 491 balls, 286 batting helmets, 34 catcher's masks, 32 catcher's chest protectors, 67 pairs of catcher's shinguards, three umpire's chest protectors, two batting tees and 600 uniforms.
All told, Lippy said, more than 5,000 pounds of gear was collected. A portion was new equipment bought by the Advocates with help from Legg Mason and the Orioles.
Roughly a third of the equipment will be donated to the Baltimore Department of Recreation.
Sealand Services is providing free shipping to the Dominican. D.F. Young and Von Paris provided services in Baltimore.
"Carlos tells us that some of the uniforms will be going to kids who barely have anything to wear, much less baseball equipment, so this was obviously a worthwhile project, and we're proud of it," Lippy said.