Hats off to this team. Those young men fought hard in the Show-Me State games, going 3-0 in pool play only to loose the two bracket games. That’s hard on kids, but it’s a part of baseball and I’m sure they understand that. But that’s not why I’m writing about them.
First, a little history. We first ran into these young men back in June and something about them caught our eye. They’re a smaller team, size wise anyway, but we’re full of life, spunk really, and we got a kick out of watching those youngsters play in Florrisant, MO. as they faced off against some pretty big boys. They put up a fight, but in the end fell to the Illinois Pride. And I think we were as disappointed as the boys; I thought that’d be the of the story. It wasn’t.
We ran into the Rugrats again this weekend at the Show-Me State Games in Columbia, MO. Once again we we’re struck by the boys and coaches on this team. They played hard and fast and we quietly cheered them on, even though they beat us in pool play. “Honor the game”, that’s rule one folks.
We ran back into the Rugrats again playing for third and that’s when one of the parents noticed a child, an outfielder, who was left handed, playing with a right handed glove. Curiosity got the better of the parent so they asked why that was. The answer hit me pretty hard.
For those who don’t know, Wellston, MO. is a fairly poor inner city community in St. Louis, Missouri. None of they boys own their own equipment, it’s provided by a community center there. And before each game each child pulls a glove out of that bag and goes play baseball –there just aren’t any “lefty” gloves. Now that young man standing in the outfield would chase down and catch balls, take off his glove, then throw the ball. They even share two bats –which stands in stark contrast to most teams, inculding ours, where almost every kid has at least or more $300 bats.
So here’s the deal… we’re working with the community center in Wellston, Missouri to donate as much baseball gear as we can get our hands on for these kids. If you have any used gear, please contact me here or drop me a comment with you’re email and I’ll get in touch with you. If you don’t have any gear, but would like to make a donation, just let me know –we’ll find out what they need and purchase or pass it along accordingly.
I’ll post updates to this as things progress.
Unfortunately, despite repeated efforts, we just weren’t able to get connected with the coaches or this program. It’s a same as several parents had donations for the origination. It just goes to show how important it is to have someone on the inside who’s enthusiastic and driven to make a difference. It’s a shame that in the end we just couldn’t make something happen.
UPDATE, UPDATE 8/24/2008
Good News! Everybody finally managed to get connected and the donations were made. Huge thanks goes out to the Johnsons’ for making this happen. Folks, these kids could really use a hand. Most of the boys have no father in their life. These kids do most everything together, playing baseball and basketball and their teams have pretty much become family. Everyday these kids encounter difficulties in their lives that the majority of us can’t even imagine. They really could use your help. If you know of an organization who’d be willing to donate funds or equipment for these kids, please contact me and we’ll put you in touch with the organization. FYI: they also have a cheerleading program for the girls.