Baseball's Precious Gift
On a muddy baseball field beneath the tropical sun, a Dominican child
been told to expect a
new uniform, a glove, a bat, a pair of shoes, and
it, a chance to play game of which dreams
are made. The children of El
Limon, an impoverished village in the heart of Caribbean splendor,
the ton of equipment is coming from Humboldt County, California, from
may never meet. It's a Holiday lesson for all of us
Visiting Santo Domingo years ago, I had given a baseball cap to a child
payment for taking his picture. I was swept away by his smile. I
realize then that baseball means so much more there than it does here.
children idolizing Dominican players like Sammy Sosa and Pedro Martinez,
baseball is hope. For many, it is the
father they never knew.
With Little League advocate Rex Bohn's help two years ago, I took 400
pounds of baseball equipment to El Limon. Pulling on their jerseys, I
boys and girls become
pint-sized Cubs, Dodgers and Giants. I wanted to
give them more.
Sometimes there is no explaining dreams. I never played baseball and
don't speak Spanish. Many people I know are not even sure where to find
Dominican Republic. It's near Cuba, by the way. And I had a hard
finding others to share the dream. I learned not to let go.
My boss at the time told me he would want to know how our company would
benefit before he would get involved. Translation: "What's in it for
I didn't let go. Would-be sponsors said the same: "Great idea. Good
When I became its manager, I used CBS 6 public service time to promote
"Cleats for Kids," a Humboldt County collection drive for old baseball
equipment. People found me. They left goods at Eureka's Adorni
and Sport and Cycle. Arcata and Redwood Empire Little Leagues offered
money and equipment and Humboldt Crabs, the same. Visalia and Woodland
delivered equipment and have promised more. Strangers sent cash and
baseballs and gloves at the station. A transient woman left a baseball
El Limon became a state of mind.
I marvel at these last three months and the streaming-video of life
by. We watched two
deadly hurricanes and rocketing fuel prices. We
watched Iraq's election as we prayed for our men and women there. My
joined the U.S. Army; he is in Baghdad now. Last month I lost my
In counterpoint, I also experienced baseball's eternal Spring. I
Saint Bernard's High School students packing 82 boxes of baseball
watched Humboldt Moving and Storage transport it to the shipping
Each box contained a note in Spanish that it was a gift from Humboldt
County. I am told El Limon's Little Leaguers will receive it in
And I pray one day to see them play baseball again.
It may be that years from now, we will all see the results of our work,
baseball players from a small village signed by major league teams.
realistically, however, we will know only that we did a good thing.
is, after all, what giving is all about.
Through "Cleats for Kids," I have reaffirmed wonderful things about our
Humboldt County home. One is that it nurtures fragile dreams.
often question our visions: "What's your agenda? What's in it for you?
What's in it for us?" But here, dreams have a way of rooting
I have seen that passion over time in those who have helped the
I have seen it in the people who protect abandoned pets and the man who
loans bicycles to Arcata's commuters. I saw it in the man who picks up
trash at a Cutten Little League ballpark. And through my project, I
seen those dreams manifested in many ways-- a bat here, an encouraging
Dreams are yours for the dreaming.