Kidsburgh Hero Clark Ehman: This 14-year-old collected over 450 baseball bats and other equipment to send to the Dominican Republic
Clark Ehman was helping his dad clean out their North Side garage, sorting through his baseball equipment, when the idea struck.
“I noticed over the past couple of years, there had been a lot of rules about the kind of bat you can use. There are a large number of bats you can’t use anymore in certain leagues,” says Clark, 14, a freshman at Pittsburgh Obama Academy.
“I had a lot of those old bats in my garage,” he says. “I thought to myself that a lot of people must be in a similar situation as I am. I thought it would be a good idea to start a program to collect equipment like this and send it off to kids who could use it. I didn’t know where yet, but I came up with the Dominican Republic.”
Clark started collecting equipment last March. By November, he amassed over 450 gently used baseball bats, hundreds of gloves, batting helmets and catchers equipment, plus new uniforms and hats.
He contacted the Pittsburgh Pirates community relations department. They were enthusiastic about the undertaking from the beginning. They provided the shipping containers and took care of transportation, and the Pirates will distribute the goods to young players in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela who are in need of gear.
Clark and his family are big baseball fans. They support the Pirates with season tickets. But Clark’s passion for the game goes beyond being a fan.
He plays baseball on three teams throughout the year, mainly as a centerfielder. Those teams donated equipment and at each away game they garnered more donations from other teams throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. He also put up flyers and set up a donation bin at his school, where kids from other Pittsburgh Public Schools could drop off equipment.
“We’re really impressed,” says his dad, Joseph Ehman, coordinator of the International Baccalaureate program at Obama Academy. “We didn’t know what to expect. He didn’t know what to expect. And the equipment just kept coming and coming and coming. It was pretty wild.”
The outpouring of donations surprised their whole family.
“The garage was packed. We were going to start moving stuff into our basement,” Joseph says, laughing. “I’m really glad that we shipped it out. It’s nice that it’s all out of our garage.”
That empty space in the Ehmans’ garage will likely be a short-lived phenomenon.
Clark is already planning this year’s collection with donations expected to be coming soon. He plans to continue this work for years to come, and he’s thinking big: The next step would be expanding outreach across Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York.
And once Clark graduates in a few years, he anticipates his brother Luke will continue this work.
“When I go to college, I see my brother – he’s in sixth grade – taking over and expanding that,” Clark says.
“We’re really proud of him,” says Joseph, who shares that pride with his wife, Dr. Kim Ehman, a pharmacist. “We have two good kids, and we’re really impressed. It’s nice to see he wants to continue. He dealt with a lot of people, and it was so nice to see how generous people are. It was surprising.”
For Clark, who hopes to travel to the Dominican Republic someday to help distribute equipment, gratification comes from the fact that he did something beneficial for his community and the larger world.
“I know it’s doing good for kids in the Dominican Republic,” he says. “That makes me the proudest.”
Have equipment to donate? Inspired by Clark, the Pittsburgh Pirates will host an equipment drive from noon-6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14. Containers will be placed in the PNC Park loading docks area on Mazeroski Way. All those who donate will receive a voucher for two free tickets to a game in 2022. Suggested items include helmets, bats, baseballs and softballs, baseball gloves, cleats and catchers equipment. The containers will be sent to the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.