From Garage to Outfield – A Second Life for Used Baseball Equipment in Africa

I think this is a good time to give you an update on what’s been happening with my Alexandra Baseball project in the past few months. In fact, this is the first article in a series I’ll be running the next several days to tell you about what we’ve accomplished so far, what our plans are, and where we still need help. (Also, if you haven’t done so yet and would like to keep updated about the happenings of Alexandra Baseball, such as their current game schedule, became a Facebook fan here.)

As some of you know, I stumbled upon this township baseball league shortly after moving here and have been trying to help them with their effort to grow and develop more players. Since the biggest obstacle seemed to be the lack of equipment (baseball gear is already hard to find in South Africa, but it is especially difficult when you have absolutely no money), we set as our first goal to get more of it. Like everything I’ve done here in Africa, it has taken longer than I envisioned, but when I now take a look at what we’ve collected so far, it is fairly impressive.

Alexandra boys with a batch of newly arrived pants

Thanks to various donors, we got:

Baseball equipment donated by PifB
  • 120 balls
  • 62 bats
  • 61 mitts
  • 49 baseball pants
  • 40 batting gloves
  • 37 helmets
  • 17 jerseys
  • 15 equipment bags
  • 14 pairs of cleats and shoes
  • 11 sets of catcher’s gear
  • 3 baseball tees
  • 1 laptop computer
  • 1 batting stick
  • 1 training book
  • an assortment of belts, socks, and hats

The biggest batch of equipment was donated by Pitch in for Baseball, a US-based nonprofit organization, and the shipment of it here in a big crate was made possible with the generous donations of 65 friends and blog followers from all over the world (the USA did edge out Singapore in the end). Special thanks also go to the Chetwynd family for the donation of a large collection of pants, jerseys, and mitts (some of them specifically bought at Play it Again Sports for the purpose of donating), a local company called Sportsworx which donated a batch of brand-new pants, the Hofheinz, Fairchild, and Perrin families for collecting an assortment of shoes and clothing and somehow managing to wedge all of it into their already tight luggage space and shepherding it through customs undetected, and to Louis Bolling, a US-based sports consultant and tennis coach.

part of the Chetwynd family donation (pants not shown)
Sportsworx donated eleven of these pants
Posing with donated equipment

Comparing and trying on pants

The above list actually doesn’t include another sizable shipment that is still on a somewhat curcuitous route to South Africa. Collected by the Rozman family in Wisconsin through a tireless effort that involved distributing fliers and lobbying the local High School coach, packed and sent to Houston by the Graf family, and now on a container to Durban as part of the Doty family’s move to South Africa. (The things I do to circumvent another import permit!)

And what are we doing with all this baseball equipment, you might wonder? Keep posted, and I’ll tell you in my next article about an exciting baseball festival planned for Alexandra at the end of September, which will be a great opportunity for some of my local readers (and photographers!) to get involved.

How you can help… 


…first of all, LIKE the ALEXANDRA BASEBALL Facebook page.
…if you live in Joburg: A Call to all Local Bloggers and Photographers! 
…if you live in the United States and are moving to South Africa: Got Container Space?
…if you live anywhere else in the world: How You Can Help Alexandra Baseball