Baseball equipment drive continues

Baseball equipment drive continues

LINCOLN - For the past three years, Lincoln resident Steve McManus has tried to promote the game he loves and help those less fortunate by collecting used baseball equipment.

In each of the past three years, he has collected more than 600 pounds of equipment, which has been shipped to areas like the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Africa, and the poorest areas of the United States.

He organized a collection drive three years ago, soliciting the assistance of present and former coaches, and contacting officials of various leagues. He put up flyers and posters, and set aside a Saturday when he would collect all of the used gloves, baseballs, bats, caps, pants, cleats, socks and helmets.

When the collecting was completed, more than 600 pounds worth of baseball equipment had been piled into boxes, and then into a trailer that Steve and his father drove to a location in Connecticut.

From there, it was sent to Miami as part of the Roberto's Kids program, and then was distributed to areas where it would do the most good.

McManus was both surprised and pleased at that initial effort, so he did it again twice more. But now the former Lincoln High School baseball team captain is a freshman at Roger Williams University, and that is stripping away most of his free time.

He wanted to keep the collection program going, at least until he graduates from college, and put out the call for someone to take over.

After several unsuccessful calls were made, Derek Degnan, a freshman at Lincoln High School, stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and said he would take over.

"I just like to help people and I love baseball, so it just seemed to go hand-in-hand," said Degnan, 14, a Lincoln Little League, Lincoln Middle School baseball team graduate and member of the Blackstone Valley Spinners Baseball Club, said.

Degnan and his father have already made telephone calls, placed flyers and sent emails to coaches and administrators of various leagues and school programs asking them if they might have some used or new but not needed baseball equipment that could be donated.

This year, he will be collecting baseball cleats, gloves, bats, bases, caps, jerseys, baseballs and helmets on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lincoln High School. It will take place at the school's main entrance, or move to the main foyer if it rains.

McManus, the son of Dan and Deb McManus, will be there to assist.

"I'll be home because it's Columbus Day weekend so I'll spend Saturday helping Derek all I can," said McManus. "It's important that this program continue and I wish Derek all the luck. I'm confident that he'll do a good job and if he ever needs help, I'm only a phone call away."

Roberto's Kids is an all-volunteer organization founded by Steve Pindar in 1997. The group collects gently used baseball equipment and clothing and distributes it to needy areas of the world, mainly in Latin America.

Pindar said he and his wife were on a church mission to the Dominican Republic when he saw firsthand the poverty that riddles the country.

"Kids were playing baseball with old, broken equipment and they didn't have gloves," said Pindar, a New York resident. "We decided to start collecting equipment and sending it over. We actually began in 1999, and have been involved with Roberto's Kids since 2006."

Roberto's Kids is named after the late Roberto Clemente, an all-star Latin American Major League player with the Pittsburgh Pirates who was killed in a plane crash during a humanitarian mission on New Year's Eve in 1972.

McManus has been in contact with Pindar, and last year they attempted to arrange a trip to a foreign country so equipment could be delivered personally, but that effort failed.

"That's something I would still like to do, but right now, I'm thinking that any trip will be made after I graduate from college," said McManus.