Herrera, Ventura excited to host equipment drive

Herrera, Ventura excited to host equipment drive

KANSAS CITY -- Kelvin Herrera remembers when his love of baseball in the Dominican Republic wasn't accompanied by very much equipment.

Herrera didn't get his first baseball glove until he was about 11. What did he do before that?

"I asked friends, 'Hey, can I use your glove for a couple days?'" Herrera said. "And then my aunt's husband sent me one from New York. I remember it was an Easton, a pitcher's model. It lasted me for like six years."

That's why the Royals, along with Herrera and fellow Dominican pitcher Yordano Ventura, are teaming up with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund to host the annual Royals Equipment Drive. The drive will be held at Tuesday night's game against the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.

Fans can contribute new or used equipment from 6 to 7:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday outside the Diamond Club on the Field/Plaza Level. Cash donations also are accepted. Fans can get an autographed baseball for a $40 donation or an autographed photo card for a $10 donation while supplies last.

Herrera and Ventura presented a check for $5,000, a BTF grant, to Cristo Rey Kansas City for the purchase of new equipment before Monday night's game. Cristo Rey, beneficiary of this year's drive, is in a national network of 26 schools developed to lift urban youth from poverty by providing a college preparatory education.

"Like me and Ventura, if you receive a little help, it makes things better," Herrera said.

Herrera and Ventura remembered making the most of what little equipment they had.

"For a team, we used just one bat. And it was for both teams," Herrera said. "We used maybe three baseballs and you know when they get wet, they get heavy. So we had to dry them in the sun. Then when you pick it up and rub it, the leather feels like concrete. So that was tough but, as a kid, you enjoyed it. You just wanted to play."

Broken bats were held together with nails and black electrical tape. Torn gloves were stitched together time and again. And baseballs, well, they often were made by the kids themselves.

"I made baseballs with a sock and foam from a mattress. I'd wrap it real tight and put tape around it and it became a real baseball," Herrera said. "And we used to use doll heads for baseballs, too. You cut off the hair and it became a baseball. We used little plastic bottles for baseballs, too. That's how we did it in the Dominican. Anything you could hit."

But if those sock-and-foam balls happened to land in the water?

"Oh, you had to really squeeze them out and then you could play," he said.

The youngsters who benefit from this drive won't have to do that.

"We like to help these kids get this equipment, because I know they're going to use it and they're going to enjoy it," Herrera said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.