The Oriole Advocates will be collecting used baseball equipment (bats, balls, gloves, catching gear) from fans attending Saturday's game against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards.
The Cardboard to Leather Equipment Collection distributes the gear to youth baseball organizations in Baltimore and the Dominican Republic.
Fans who would like to donate an item, but cannot attend the game, can call the Orioles' marketing department at (410) 685-9800, Ext. 2100, to make arrangements.
The Sun's Jason LaCanfora spoke with Michael Fiorelli, the Orioles' assistant director of marketing, about the program.
Q: How did the program get started?
A: The program has been going since 1991. It got started when [Sun sports columnist] John Eisenberg did a story about a boy in the Dominican Republic.
Eisenberg did a six-part story on the poverty. One of the stories ran with a picture of a boy catching a ball with a cardboard glove.
The Oriole Advocates talked to John, and John met Carlos Bernhardt, our Dominican Republic scout, who also helped start the program.
The Advocates also came to us, and we said we'd like to be a part of it, too. We try to help out the Dominican Republic.
There's a lot of poverty there, and we collect the equipment for them and youth baseball in Baltimore.
There are a lot of volunteers involved with sorting the equipment in a warehouse for Baltimore and the Dominican Republic.
Q: Has the program been successful in the past?
A: We usually get a truckload of equipment.
It has been pretty successful, but it's not something we want to calculate in numbers like attendance.
We just try to get as much equipment as we can. The response has been good so far.
We get a lot of help from other recreation leagues and the Advocates have already made arrangements with several organizations for equipment.
When rec leagues get new equipment, they often donate the old stuff.
The Oriole Advocates have been real instrumental in reaching out to the leagues.
Q: Do you think more people have become aware of the program over the years?
A: Well, last year we did not have it because of the strike.
We are looking for big things this year. I won't say it has grown in leaps and bounds, but we've gotten some better play from it.
WBAL Radio and Home Team Sports help us out, as well.
All fans who donate will also get an autograph of either Manny Alexander or Armando Benitez (both natives of the Dominican Republic). That was something new we added this time to see if we can get more people involved.
Basically, it's been the Advocates working with Carlos Bernhardt in the Dominican Republic. Manny and Armando liked the idea of helping out.