05/19/06
Oneonta man works to provide baseball gear
Resident, Hall of Fame join effort for Dominican Republic
By Jake Palmateer

Staff Writer, The Daily Star
ONEONTA, NY — How does an island nation with a population the size of New Jersey
provide about one of every 10 Major League Baseball players?

Oneonta Man Works to Provide Baseball GearSteve Pindar, of Oneonta, said he has a pretty good idea.

Children in the Dominican Republic are crazy about the sport, said Pindar, who has
been to the Caribbean nation 25 times.

“The kids literally play all day long with broomsticks for bats, rocks for bases and
balls made of string,” Pindar said Wednesday.

But Pindar said a new initiative assisted by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in
Cooperstown and Luis and Roberto Clemente Jr. will help change that for children in
the Dominican Republic, the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente Sr.’s native Puerto
Rico, and other regions in Latin America.

Pindar, a retired Opportunities for Otsego employee and a former Oneonta city
alderman, said he and Steve Tremetiere of Newtown, Pa., are working with the
Clemente’s and the Hall of Fame on a project known as Roberto’s Kids.

“The goal of Roberto’s Kids is to collect and distribute equipment from baseball
leagues, charitable organizations, individuals or retailers in the United States and
Canada and provide that equipment to those in Latin American countries where
baseball is loved and played with a passion,” Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey
said in a media release.

Pindar and Tremitiere have independently distributed surplus equipment in the
Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico for the past several years on a small scale.
But through Roberto’s Kids, the Hall of Fame hopes to expand on the efforts of the
two men, according to the release.

Pindar said the initial goal is to ship 100,000 pounds of equipment to the Dominican
Republic and Puerto Rico this year.

“It will all go by sea,” Pindar said. “We’re working with different shipping companies
now who will donate the shipping.”

But the most important task right now, Pindar said, is to begin collecting the gear.
“If it has anything to do with baseball, we accept it,” Pindar said. “The kids that we
target have absolutely nothing.”

Pindar said he first went to the Dominican Republic, which occupies two-thirds of the
island of Hispaniola, on a trip organized through St. James’ Episcopal Church in
Oneonta.

“Sometimes you come back and look at things a little differently,” Pindar said. “It’s
difficult for them to afford a league when they have no equipment.”

In 1999, Pindar returned to the country, this time with a donation of gear from the
Oneonta Little League. By 2005, Pindar and his family collected 5 tons of equipment
for Dominican children.

“I receive donations of baseball equipment from teams and leagues, high schools
and colleges, as well as municipalities throughout the country,” Pindar said.

“In 2005, I received donations from over 50 groups located in 13 states,” he said.
“Locally in 2005, I received donations from the Oneonta Little League, individuals in
our area, Hartwick College and teams that played at Cooperstown Baseball World.”
On opening day of this year’s season, 223 out of the 813 players on team rosters are
from outside the United States, according to Major League Baseball.

Out of these, 85 are from the Dominican Republic, 43 are from Venezuela and 33 are
from Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory.

“The good thing about this project is that it provides much-needed equipment to kids
that have the hopes and dreams of playing one day in the major leagues,” said Omar
Minaya, executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager of the
New York Mets, in the media release from the Hall of Fame.

A one-time colony of Spain and the United States, the Dominican Republic has a
strong baseball tradition.

Native sons making a career in Major League Baseball include Albert Pujols, Sammy
Sosa, Vladimer Guerrero, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.

Pedro Martinez of the New York Mets is another export from the country.
In a statement provided to Pindar from Martinez’s wife, Carolina, the pitcher said the
donations are much appreciated by the island youth.

“When I was a kid, I played with a stick and handmade balls because that’s all we
had,” Martinez said. “Today, many of our kids in the Dominican Republic can enjoy a
better time and a better life playing ball with the help of equipment from this
project.”

Groups or individuals interested in supporting Roberto’s Kids may contact the
organization by calling 437-8779, or through e-mail at info@robertoskids.org.