In January 2005, Welence brought his son along on a medical mission trip where they were introduced to a Dominican physician who had a part-time job teaching English to Boston Red Sox-signed players in the DR. In turn, they met numerous MLB and Dominican League players, which inspired them to create a trip for their Ridgewood, N.J. 12-year-old travel baseball team.
In January 2006, they took their first trip to San Pedro de Macoris, a hub of Dominican baseball, for a three-day tournament. It has become the cornerstone of his community service ever since. That same team of players and their dads returned for the next five years through their high school years. But baseball was not the only entry in the lineup card. The team brought much-needed supplies of baseball uniforms and equipment and performed a community goodwill project each year. And in return, the Jersey boys not only experienced being part of a humanitarian mission, but also were able hang out with baseball royalty.
“Baseball is like a religion in the Dominican Republic,” said Welence, who moved to Hull five years ago with his wife, Sarah. “The kids got to play on the field at Tetelo Vargas, the San Pedro professional stadium of the Dominican Baseball League. We were able to meet major league players like Robinson Cano, Johnny Cueto, Eduardo Nunes, and countless others.”
On one occasion, they even got to meet David Ortiz at the professional stadium. Three generations of Ridgewood teams continued the tradition until the pandemic, after which the program now faces an uncertain future. However, he is hopeful that somebody is warming up in the bullpen to relieve what he started.
Enter Hull Youth Baseball.
“Since taking over as president of Hull Youth Baseball, I have gotten to know Craig Welence over the past two-plus years,” said David Gibbons. “We met in January 2020 when he was getting ready for one of his trips to the Dominican Republic to support youth baseball. He reached out to me and described the volunteer work he was doing for the youth there to help promote the game of baseball. We were able to donate a small number of items that year to his cause that included some gloves, bats, and helmets.”
HYB continued to go to bat for the cause. They collected baseball items throughout the season to donate to its own players who could not afford them, with the remaining items going to this wonderful cause in the Dominican Republic. It was a year after establishing this relationship with Craig and the collection of donated items that Hull Youth Baseball was able to make its biggest contribution yet.
“In 2021, with the help of our sponsors we were able to outfit all three baseball divisions in Hull with brand new equipment for the 2021 season. We collected many donations over 2021 from Hull Youth Baseball players to donate to Craig and his work,” said Gibbons. “In March of 2021 we were immediately able to donate multiple sets of catcher’s equipment, catchers’ mitts, baseball gloves, batting helmets, and cleats. We were also able to donate multiple team uniforms, hats, trophies, baseball bats and some umpire equipment. Craig was able to deliver those items to the kids in the Dominican Republic and provided pictures with their newly acquired baseball gear.”
The HYB board members had discussed being part of the next trip, but unfortunately COVID concerns struck out that idea.
“We have also spoken about possibly getting Hull players together to fundraise for a trip to the Dominican Republic to play baseball with them. With COVID19 slowly taking a back seat this is a realistic possibility again,” Gibbons said. “At the very minimum, we would like to bring the equipment being collected this year down to the Dominican Republic with Craig and his team if everything lines up. It truly makes the players of Hull Youth Baseball appreciate what they have here in this wonderful baseball town as well as the volunteers.
“The relationship between Craig and I continues to grow since our first meeting, which is great. Especially for two guys from different walks of life who may have never met if it wasn’t for the love of baseball and giving back to the kids,” he said. “I look forward to what the future holds for Hull Youth Baseball and its relationship with the Dominican Republic baseball program. We may be 1,600-plus miles apart separated by the ocean, but we certainly have one thing in common, and that’s the love of baseball.”
“One of the most profound things I heard from the kids that attended the trip was a counter to the parents’ notion that it would make kids appreciate what they have,” said Welence. “It’s not that we appreciate what we have more, it’s that we understand that what we have is not as important as we thought.”
Umpire training: Hull Youth Baseball is looking for individuals to be trained for umpiring youth baseball games. We are looking for Junior umpires who are at least 13 years old in our Minors Division. Anyone 16 and older looking to train to become a “patched” umpire to umpire Majors, Babe Ruth, High School, etc. please reach out as well. Hull Youth Baseball is working closely with a company to provide training for these opportunities. Attendees with completion of the Junior umpire clinic will be considered for work for our Division 2 baseball program as an umpire. Specific Details about benefits are available at the clinic. To register: Parents and/or students should email Hull Youth Baseball at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and your name and contact info.
Lacrosse success for Iversen: Jack Iversen, sophomore at Mass Maritime Academy has been a key player for the school’s men’s lacrosse team. Iverson, a midfielder, has scored a goal in each of the team’s last four games, all losses to Rivier, Salve Regina, Wheaton, and Norwich.
Spring sports signups: Registration is open for Hull Youth Baseball and Hull Youth Girls Softball for this coming season. To register for all three divisions for Hull Youth Baseball, email email@example.com. Evaluations for Division 1 will be on Saturday March 19, and for Division 2 on Sunday March 20. Hull Youth Softball will have three divisions this season and will play local travel games. Division 1 will be grades 2 and 3, Division 2 will be grades 4 and 5, and Division 3 will be grades 6-8. The season begins on April 25 and will run through late June/early July. To register email firstname.lastname@example.org. Early registration discount is effective through March 21.
Hull Tee Ball is looking for a new coordinator to take over the program. Hull Tee Ball is a great way to introduce 3- to 5-year-old boys and girls to organized sports. The number-one goal is to have fun, and the children develop some skills along the way. Hull Tee Ball has been played on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6 to 7 p.m. at Jones Park in Kenberma for six weeks in July and August. The league holds 501(c)(3) non-profit status, and playing fee is around $40 per child. Unfortunately, the league has not played the past two summers due to the COVID19 pandemic, but conditions look favorable to restart this summer. Anyone interested in taking over Hull Tee Ball should contact Eric Hipp at email@example.com or 781-264-6940.
Please send sports information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Weekly deadline is Tuesday at 8 p.m.