Baseball Equipment Donation in
San Pedro de Macorís

By Jim Toedtman
Posted March 6, 2014

On right: Karen Carroll, the mission team coordinator on the Dominican diocesan staff, tries on some of the baseball equipment donated by the Flagler College baseball team.

The Savannah, GA, mission team from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church carried extra baggage when it arrived at the Clínica Esperanza on February 16, 2014. In addition to more than 2,000 pairs of eyeglasses and equipment for its one-week eye clinic, the team brought 100 pounds of baseballs, bats and helmets – a gift of the Flagler College baseball team.

The nine-member mission team, led by David Sweeterman of Savannah and Dr. Alan Peaslee of Valdosta, GA, established a one-week eye clinic at the Clínica Episcopal Esperanza y Caridad in San Pedro de Macorís in the eastern part of the Dominican Republic. Clínica Esperanza has been in operation for 15 years, and is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of the Domnican Republic. The team members examined the eyes of approximately 500 residents, dispensing glasses to more than half of the patients.

But an early highlight of the visit was the presentation of baseball equipment to Padre Ricardo T. Potter, Canon Juan Márquez, and Padre Ramón Canela. Padre Potter is the administrative head of Clínica Esperanza and of Colegio Episcopal San Esteban, and Canon Juan Márquez serves as the Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. Padre Canela is the director of the Kellogg Center, one of the conference centers of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic, located across the street from Clínica Esperanza. The donated equipment included a dozen bats, 10 batting helmets, over 25 baseballs, catcher’s equipment and 20 Flagler College t-shirts. Padre Potter said the equipment would be used by school children enrolled in Colegio San Esteban in the baseball-crazy neighborhood of San Pedro de Macorís. Colegio San Esteban is a K-12 school operated by the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. It was founded in 1922, and is the oldest Episcopal educational institution in the Dominican Republic. It currently serves more than 300 students.

From left: David Sweeterman, mission team leader; Jim Toedtman, baseball equipment donation coordinator; the Rev. Ricardo Potter, Clínica Esperanza; the Rev. Canon Juan Márquez, Diocesan staff; the Rev. Ramón Canela, Kellogg Center.

The idea of sending the baseball gear came as the Savannah group began organizing its February trip. One of the team members, Jim Toedtman, is a visiting professor at Flagler, which is well known for its strong baseball program. “Our primary mission was helping people with their eyesight. But we also knew that San Pedro de Macoris was particularly enthusiastic about its baseball. It didn’t take much imagination to reach out to Flagler Baseball Coach Dave Barnett. He couldn’t have been more enthusiastic.”

Barnett and Toedtman rummaged through a shed of baseball equipment, collecting roughly 100 pounds worth of the gear, boxed it and sent it ahead to the Dominican Republic. The advance shipping of the equipment was coordinated by Bill Kunkle, the Executive Director of the Dominican Development Group, using the airlift facilities of Agape Flights. “The whole idea is to make a contribution to the neighborhood children,” Toedtman said.

San Pedro de Macorís has a long history as the home of many major league baseball players, including Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano and Sammy Sosa.

Flagler baseball has its own strong traditions. Since 1982, 34 Flagler players have gone on to play professional baseball. This year’s team currently has an 10-6 record. Flagler is a small liberal arts college with 2,500 students in St. Augustine, FL. Known for its history as the longest continuously settled city in the United States, St. Augustine also is in the area first visited by Ponce de Leon in 1513. Coincidentally, Ponce de Leon’s family home in the New World is still standing in San Rafael del Yuma, 40 miles east of San Pedro de Macorís.

One of the photographs from the optical clinic conducted by this mission team. Click this image to see more photographs from this ministry.

For more information about this donation, contact Jim Toedtman ( or David Sweeterman ( For information on shipping supplies to the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, contact Karen Carroll ( or Bill Kunkle (