It’s time to clean out your closets, dig into the corners of the garage and check your depository of old sports equipment for usable baseball gear that can be repurposed to new owners. The Oriole Advocates will hold their annual Cardboard to Leather collection before Sunday’s Angels-Orioles game and until the second inning at all Camden Yards gates.
Cardboard to Leather is one of the Advocates’ signature programs, a means of collecting and distributing new or gently used baseball equipment to kids in underdeveloped baseball-crazy nations where tree limbs are used as bats and cardboard wrapped with tape functions as a glove. In other words, the gear goes to kids who need it most.
Longtime Advocate Chuck Lippy began the program after reading former Baltimore Sun columnist John Eisenberg’s dispatch of seeing such makeshift equipment during an assignment in the Dominican Republic in 1992. Since then, the Advocates have made a mission out of getting the equipment necessary into the hands of youngsters who otherwise might not be able to afford it.
What are the Advocates looking for? Gloves, bats and balls are always needed. Bases and other field equipment are always useful. And if you’ve got uniforms, shoes and caps, bring them, too.
“We’ll take pretty much anything we can get,” said Mike Licea, the organization’s Cardboard to Leather chairman. “Gloves are always at a premium. They don’t change technology and kids don’t outgrow them. They can keep them for a long time.”
If you don’t have any baseball gear, monetary donations are always accepted. In past years, the Advocates have used financial donations to erect protective fences behind home plate and in front of benches. They also help the organization purchase needed equipment that isn’t donated, and help offset the cost of shipping the gear abroad.
“If you have an equipment donation, bring it,” Licea said. “And if you have more than you can bring to the ballpark, let one of the Advocates know and we’ll schedule a collection.”
The Advocates haven’t yet determined where this year’s donations will be distributed. They were hopeful of making a donation to children in Venezuela, but the current political climate there may not permit that. They are planning a distribution in the Dominican Republic with Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jiménez this fall, and are hopeful of scheduling a distribution coordinated with ex-Oriole Melvin Mora. They recently sent equipment to Aruba and have made several distribution trips to Nicaragua over the past several years.
For more information on Cardboard to Leather, call Licea at 410-299-9118 or email him at C2L@orioleadvocates.org.