CINCINNATI – When a former Reds pitching prospect returned from a nine-day mission to the Dominican Republic Sunday, he counted up the wins and losses his team of high school and former UC players compiled on the trip.
"We didn't do too bad,” said Hamilton native Curtus Moak, a former pitching star at UC and a 25th-round draft choice of the Reds in 2001. “We won two, lost two, and had a tie. It was an incredible trip.”
The former Reds player is a pastor now at Hamilton Christian Church, and he doesn’t count his success in wins and losses, but in saves.
“Two things were important to us. That was expressing the love of God, and the love of the game,” Moak said.
The trip was all about "sharing the Gospel and sharing the game we know and love," said Treg Haberkorn, also a former UC player.
And sharing their bounty of baseball equipment with kids.
Moak’s group, part of Missions.me, gave away 100 baseballs, a dozen bats, 200 pairs of pants, two different sets of jerseys and 100 gloves to Dominican kids who love the game but have little equipment to play.
Like 7-year-old Johan, who never had a glove until last week.
"See the big smile on his face? He never ran that fast than when he got that glove,” Moak said. “Once he got that glove, he kept hitting it with his fist (to break it in). He just loved it.
"It was incredible for us to bring a tangible love of Christ to these individuals, give them something they’re not able to have. Hopefully they’ll remember that for the rest of their lives. I know we will.”
"It was amazing,” said Jenny Castator, a former softball player for Indiana Wesleyan University. “I was someone who had eyes to see who didn't have a glove. I loved being in that role."
Haberkorn agreed the trip left a big impression on him.
"I had never been outside the country,” he said. "Sharing the Gospel and sharing the game we know and love … I saw a bunch of miracles happen this week … seeing their faces light up, it was great.”
Brian Welch was at the airport to welcome his son home from his mission. Welch said his son plays baseball at Hamilton High School and raised his own money to make the trip.
“I’m definitely excited to see him come back, hear his experience, how things went down there,” Welch said. “And the ministry they’re portraying, see what the impact was they made in the lives of the kids they were able to work with, teach and interact with on a daily basis.”
Moak said he’s already planning the next trip to Peru.