August 19, 2019

Inspiration in Baseball

October 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently I came across an incredible story on the internet. I was searching random baseball phrases on google to see if any interesting websites showed up. I was also name searching for possible ideas for a foundation I am working on starting.

My first search: Turn Two… Derek Jeter’s foundation pops up.

My second search: Safe at Home… Joe Torre’s foundation links in.

My third search: Double Play… I was in shock at what I saw.

The headline, “Double Play Foundation” was the tag line on the google search, and I clicked to open it up. What I saw next, gave me goosebumps. This website was created by a 14 year old freshman living in New York, in only it’s 10th month of existence… yet had more inspiration and generosity behind it’s words than I’d seen from anyone.

In the winter of 2008, Ben visited the Dominican Republic. His interest in the country was already deep within his heart because of players like Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, and Pedro Martinez – the players he grew up idolizing and who brought baseball into the core of his life. Most importantly though, it was Albert Pujols, who’s strong connection with the Dominican Republic showed in his charity work. Ben did a report on Pujols when he was in 7th grade and it was then that he learned how active the slugger is in helping his native land and it inspired Ben to do what he could to help.

Ben Ulene started the Double Play Foundation in December of 2009 when he was going through his closet and noticed how many old baseball jerseys he had accrued over his adolescence and that he no longer had use for. “I thought that there had to be some way that these uniforms could be used again, as each one had been used for only one 3-month season and then put away, ” Ben told me. It was at that moment that he decided to pass-on his once prized possessions to others who may not be as fortunate as himself. He named his cause, The Double Play Foundation (DPF) and told me it was because “just like in a double play where one batted ball is used to get two outs, one baseball uniform is being used twice, doing double duty.”
Looking back at a recent blog post of mine about the importance of jerseys, you have to recognize how great something like this could be to someone who has never owned a jersey before. I’m sure you can think back to jersey distribution day on your former ball teams as a child. Do you remember the excitement you had as everyone clamored for the right number? Can you still feel the fabric, as you once traced the number with your fingers forever engraining it in your memory? And what about the first time you put it on? Did you feel like the Major Leaguers you idolized on TV? Did the confidence sweep over your body, as you stood a little taller, felt a little more powerful? Did that uniform bind you a member of the team as it united each of you by bearing the same logo embroidered on each of your chests, yet let you stand apart by your own numerical value? Do you remember it? I can’t ever forget it.

Unfortunately, there are many kids in the world who don’t have that memory. But with Ben’s help, a lot more can. Here is a 14 year old freshman in high school who is making a difference in the lives of others by doing something so simple. Yet so many of us forget the value in such simplicity. We may hold on to our old jerseys, or we may even lose them overtime, forgetting their own honored significance.

Here we have a chance to pay it forward, to add a spark to the imagination of kids in other worlds unfamiliar to our own. Here we can make a difference by reusing the fabric we have tossed aside. There are many things of inspiration in our world today that we forget about in passing, but people like Ben can remind us of those in their actions. Ben saw an opportunity to instill hope in others lives, and he took it.

(Pictures from 2 of Ben’s Jersey Collection Drives)

The Baseball Life
-S

Ben is currently not set up to receive individual jerseys, but if you would like to donate a team of 10+ jerseys to the cause, you may email Ben Ulene at doubleplayfoundation@gmail.com. You can visit his website at DoublePlayFoundation.org.

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