Vance Albitz is a 24-year-old minor-league shortstop in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He no doubt spends most of his time trying to become a better baseball player and advance higher in the system, where he's a .276/.351./.355 hitter with 17 stolen bases in 190 career games. His most recent experience came in Memphis at the Triple-A level.
The rest of Albitz's time, however, must be spent conjuring great ideas, because his website Gloves4Troops.com is among the best we've ever seen.
Says Albitz on the site:
Recently, I was reading an article on our troops based in Afghanistan. I was intrigued to hear the response of one soldier when asked the question, “What would you like people back home to send you?”
“Baseball gloves and a baseball,” he said. “So much of our tasks are hurry up and go, followed by waiting.”
The decision was made shortly after that: [Send] 1,000 gloves to U.S. troops around the world. More than anything, they’ll know we’re thinking about them. Let’s make it happen.
Albitz is asking for gloves, baseballs or $20 in order for him to mail donated equipment to our troops. Check out this video Vance made:
Albitz told The Stew in an e-mail that 160 gloves have been sent to at least 30 locations, 95 percent of which are inside of Afghanistan. They've also donated a lot of baseballs and Albitz says they're in more need of gloves and money than horsehide. (So if you're thinking of donating, you know what to send them.)
No matter what you think of our country's foreign policy decisions, we can all agree these troops have among the toughest jobs in the entire world. A little baseball will make the time pass more agreeably. It's not a peace treaty, a bulletproof vest or even a weapon, but donations like this couldn't possibly hurt. Could they even get some Afghanis to learn to play baseball? Who knows, but some probably will give it a shot while over there.
Albitz also passes along these emails from what are presumably real, live military men:
"This is SPC Shaun Pelt and I am deployed as a medic in Bagram, Afghanistan.
"It is pretty funny that I saw this article today, yesterday I was talking with a couple of guys about exercise and fitness while deployed and one guy said he packed a glove with him in hopes others did the same. Getting a couple gloves and baseballs would be a big moral boost over here."
"I am a soldier that is currently deployed in Afghanistan and a die hard St Louis Cardinals fan. I wanted to say thank you for your efforts to send such things to us troops over here in this home away from home. Coming back from a mission outside the wire and having the ability to wind down and play catch is a huge stress reliever."
U.S. Army Cavalry
"My name is SrA Andrew Purshock. I'm currently deployed over here in Kandahar, Afghanistan. I am a crew chief over here on the F-16, which basically means maintaining the jet so it is fit to fly. I have played baseball all my life and also played a year in college. If there is any way to donate a few gloves over here so we can have a catch when there isn't anything going on the flight line, that would be great."
These guys don't want a lot, just what anyone else on any block in America might — little normalcy. A comfort of home. A game of catch. We can help make it happen by donating gloves and/or money to Gloves4Troops. If you're donating a glove, print and fill out this form, stick it in the glove and send it to:
c/o Gloves 4 Troops
23133 Hawthorne Blvd Ste. 303
Torrance, CA 90505
Or, to send $20 online, go to PayPal.
Albitz says the goal remains 1,000 gloves, but remember: He's a ballplayer and has to get to spring training next month. So hurry up and donate today.