OREM, Utah (ABC4 News) – Inspired to help after hearing stories of how tough it is for children in the Dominican Republic to get baseball equipment, Sgt. Bill Crook — a long time baseball fan — is flying to the Dominican Republic on Friday to donate baseball equipment to over 100 young baseball players.
Over the last four years Sgt. Crook and his family have hosted players from the Orem Owls taking in to their home. It was over dinners and attending games that they became close and learned about what life is like living on the island nation.
“We learned how tough it is in the Dominican Republic and how the kids don’t have anything. They don’t have any new equipment or used equipment in some cases,” said Sgt. Crook.
In the Dominican Republic baseball is life, a religion to some. It’s a means off the island to a better life.
“When I was growing up playing baseball I remember having to go to the field without shoes, without a glove,” said Steven Mateo, a former professional baseball player. “I’d ask a friend to let me borrow a glove or a hat.”
It was meeting players like Mateo — who was one of the lucky ones to get off the island thanks to the game — that inspired Crook to donate baseball equipment to kids.
“the kids just think it’s like Christmas,” added Crook.
On Friday night he will jet off for the Dominican Republic for the third time where he hopes to donate equipment to over 100 young players.
“It’s just a special feeling, it’s just nice to make friends with those people and people from that country,” says Crook.
It was a post on Facebook that inspired other to help.
“People have been very generous, it’s nice,” says Crook.
People have been donating hats and jerseys, balls and bats to the Orem Police Department and at Billie’s Batting Cages located at 521 N. 1200 W. in Orem. In all Sgt. Crook hope to bring with him 4 military bags full of donated baseball equipment. But, this entire project comes at a cost.
“We have a GoFundMe account because the bags are pretty expensive to take on the airplace and we do this all out of our own pocket,” added Crook.
He says he hasn’t pushed the GOFundMe page because he doesn’t like asking for money but has appreciated all the help he has gotten from those willing to donate. He says this experience has changed his life and the life of his family and he hopes to continue to do this for as long as he can.
He says he hopes to be able to take the baseball team he helps coach sometime in the winter of next year. He hopes in the 10 days he spends in the Dominican Republic that he can work the details and begin a fundraising campaign.
To make a donation you can drop off items at the Orem Police Department or Billies Batting Cages at 521 N. 1200 W. or on their GoFundMe account located here.