MORGAN PARK — Don't be surprised when spotting baseball and softball players at Morgan Park High School in colors other than their traditional dark green and orange.
The reason for the off-color equipment is that some of the helmets, catchers gear and other items came from Glenbard South High School in suburban Glen Ellyn. The Raiders' colors are red, white and blue.
But Mustangs' athletic director Michael Berger didn't seem to mind having some mismatched equipment at 1744 W. Pryor Ave. on the Far Southwest Side, according to Laurence Holmes, a radio host on WSCR-670 AM.
The on-air conversation in late April centered on baseball and softball equipment. Shortly after the segment, Holmes received a text message from Marco Eufrasio, a teacher at Glenbard South.
Eufrasio said his school had some gently used baseball equipment he'd like donate. Holmes made the roughly one-hour trek from his home in Hyde Park to the school in the Far West suburbs.
He returned with his SUV packed from floor to ceiling with all types of baseball and softball equipment that the radio host believes would have otherwise gone unused at the suburban school that recently was restocked with fresh gear.
Eufrasio "loaded up my car," Holmes said Thursday. "I think there were four boxes of stuff and even a tee."
Berger connected with Holmes five months later via social media and soon a date was made to hand over the equipment Holmes had stored in his basement and garage.
Big thanks to Marco Eufrasio & the folks at Glenbard South for filling my trunk and back seat with donated baseball equipment. I'm gonna find it a good home on the South Side & the Dominican Republic. Marco's generosity was above and beyond and because of him a lot of young kids are going to have a better baseball experience. All this came from me talking about it on the show and reinforces how much good we can do. And when he's not coaching baseball, he's teaching Special Ed. Just terrific! Mad props Marco!
Holmes said he still remembers the Opening Day parade for his little league that marched along Halsted Street. He played baseball in the same park as Chicago legends like Kirby Puckett, Marvin Freeman, Keith Robinson and others.
"I grew up playing baseball," Holmes said. "Whatever we can do to get kids interested."
Holmes also coached football for two years at George Washington High School in the East Side neighborhood. There, he was struck by the lack of quality equipment for the struggling program.
"We never had enough stuff," he said.
With that in mind, Holmes said he'd like to continue to collect gently used baseball and softball equipment and help programs in need of such supplies. He plans to use his radio show to promote the effort.
"I kinda want to start this whole recycling of equipment thing," he said.
Holmes said the baseball and softball equipment at Morgan Park will likely be used in the lower levels and at practice. He said he has no plans to collect gear that is either broken, moldy or beyond its usable life.
"I definitely don't want junk," he said.
Anyone with donations of gently used baseball equipment as well as those interested in receiving donations can can email Holmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.