Bat Back: Camas student creates charity for baseball equipment

Caleb Field wants used gloves, bats, cleats and more for children in Dominican Republic

CAMAS — Bats and gloves are necessities.

Cleats would be good to have, as well.

And uniforms? Oh, how they would love jerseys and baseball pants.

Caleb Field, a senior at Camas High School, has earned academic scholarships and is expected to attend Gonzaga University. While there, he still expects to help run a charity he started to get baseball equipment to players in the Dominican Republic. Photo by Paul Valencia
Caleb Field, a senior at Camas High School, has earned academic scholarships and is expected to attend Gonzaga University. While there, he still expects to help run a charity he started to get baseball equipment to players in the Dominican Republic. Photo by Paul Valencia

Caleb Field, a senior at Camas High School, has seen the need for children in Dominican Republic. He traveled there a couple years ago and was struck by what he witnessed. Youngsters play baseball all the time, as much as they can, even though most lack the proper equipment for the game.

They play in shorts and flip-flops. A group of children might share one bat. If it breaks, they improvise with sticks.

“Growing up in Camas, every single kid has his own bat,” Field said. “Kids here will have one pair of cleats per season, then be done with them.”


Bat Back

Bat Back can be found online at batback.org.

Its mission statement includes:

“We love baseball. We love kids. We love kids who love baseball. We believe every child deserves a chance to play the game. We want to give children in less developed countries an equal opportunity to play baseball with equipment that works.”


Field wanted to take advantage of the excess in the United States to try to give back to others who love baseball as much as he does.

“How can I reuse these?” he questioned.

Then he found an answer.

“Give your cleats a second chance.”

And bats. And gloves. And pants. And jerseys. And so on.

Field, a designated hitter and first baseman for the Papermakers, came up with a plan. He started Bat Back, a charity to “take lightly used baseball equipment, preserve it, then ship it down to the kids in the Dominican Republic.”

Still in the early stages, Bat Back sent its first batch of supplies last fall: Baseball bags full of gloves, bats, helmets, plates, and plastic practice baseballs.

“It was a start,” Field said.

A start of something he hopes will turn into a long-running program.

Caleb Field, a senior from Camas High School, shares a love for baseball with youngsters all over the world. He has set up a charity to send used baseball equipment to athletes in need. Photo by Kris Cavin
Caleb Field, a senior from Camas High School, shares a love for baseball with youngsters all over the world. He has set up a charity to send used baseball equipment to athletes in need. Photo by Kris Cavin

Caleb and his mom Elida visited the Dominican Republic when Caleb was a sophomore. The poverty there was evident when Caleb saw a family friend’s nephew, a 6-year-old, crying over a broken flip-flop. A minor inconvenience to most living in Camas, it was the only pair of shoes for this little guy and a true crisis for his family.

That is when it hit Caleb.

“These kids have nothing,” he said.

They do have dreams, though. And playing baseball allows them to live out those dreams.

“In the Dominican, all the kids play baseball,” Field said. “It’s their escape.”

They will use anything to come up with a game that looks like baseball, too. Field saw children using bottle caps as balls. The pitcher would “flip” the cap toward the batter, who would use a stick as a bat.

Just finding a way, any way, to play the game.

Field came up with Bat Back to make it easier for those players to enjoy the game. He is asking for donations, from players and from organizations.

“All the high schools have left-over jerseys,” he noted.

He is asking for money, as well. Shipping the equipment is not cheap.

He is in it for the long haul, too.

Field has earned enough academic scholarships to pay for his college and he intends to study at Gonzaga. He wants to become a neurologist.

Years from now, his dream is that Bat Back is still running and thriving.

Oh, and as far as that first shipment to the Dominican Republic? Field got some feedback and saw photos.

“You got to see the kids actually impacted by the equipment. It was surreal,” Field said.

The children were thrilled with the gloves, he added. So much better than a glove made of cardboard.

With Caleb Field’s idea, and with the help of Southwest Washington’s baseball community, perhaps one day children in the Dominican Republic will be playing baseball wearing practice jerseys from all the teams in Clark County.

 

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