As fans attend the Cardinals Winter Warmup at the Hyatt Regency-Riverfront this weekend, I would like to make a personal appeal to bring a new or used baseball glove and/or baseballs for our troops in Afghanistan.
It’s amazing what happens when an idea and a little luck intersect. Right before Christmas, our producer Anthony Stalter read a story at MLB.com about a Cardinal minor leaguer by the name of Vance Albitz, who read about a soldier overseas who said the thing he missed most about home was playing catch. Albitz decided he would start Gloves4Troops (Gloves4Troops.com), an initiative in which he would collect gloves from his teammates and the public, and send them to U.S. troops overseas.
It was a great, simple idea that has already succeeded to the tune of more than 200 donated gloves, and hopefully will take on a life of its own. “I was reading an article about some soldiers in Afghanistan, and someone asked them what they wanted people from the states to send them,” Albitz told us in The Fast Lane. “One guy said he wanted baseball gloves and baseballs so that he could play catch with another soldier.”
I mentioned that Rawlings was based in St. Louis, and that perhaps he could find some corporate support. The good people at Rawlings were listening, and immediately sent twenty eight brand new gloves to Vance. Bill Shelton, the President and CEO of Left Field Creative in town, sent 300 baseballs to help the effort.
As we thought about it in the studio, the idea that the Cardinals had the Winter Warmup approaching struck us. How about getting fans to bring gloves to drop off at the Warmup? We got a text from someone at Scott Air Force Base, saying perhaps they could transport gloves if we got them.
Michael Hall, the Executive Director of Cardinals care, he jumped all over it and got to work.
Greg Jahraus, the manager of the Firestone store at Scott Air Force Base, put us in touch with Chip Shaffer, the Illinois State Coordinator for Epsilon Sigma Alpha’s Hope for Heroes. Incredibly, Hope for Heroes serves Bagram Air Base, FOB (forward operating base) Sharana, along with 16 COP’s (Combat out Posts) in Afghanistan. They fly items over on a regular basis and on the day Chip and I e-mailed, he told me that in the past 2 months they have shipped over 200 18″x”18×16″ boxes, and that this would be no problem.
Rawlings has provided receptacles, and every fan that heads to the Hyatt Regency Riverfront this weekend is invited to bring a new or used glove, or baseballs, and drop them off for the troops overseas.
This was the product of Albitz’ brainchild, and the generosity of the Cardinals, Rawlings, and Hope for Heroes. “I thought of this idea to gather up as many gloves as I can. I know I had a bunch in my closet and I know my teammates had the same. Basically what it turned out to be is people donated any kind of baseball gloves, baseballs or money…it costs about $20 to send four gloves and four baseballs to Afghanistan.”
Albitz started with a goal of 1,000 gloves and balls by spring training, and hopefully he can blow that total away. “If you’re in Afghanistan, I think the biggest thing is just having a glove. Whether there’s a string broken or not. Some people have donated some new gloves. That’s certainly not what I’m asking for. Anything that is within the range of being able to play catch, that’s what I’m looking for.”
He wants to bring the game of baseball back to our soldiers overseas. And Cardinal Nation can help him out.
If you can’t make it to the Warmup, you can check out Vance’s website, Gloves4Troops.com, and follow him on Twitter at VanceAlbitz.