Former Decatur Standouts Spreading Baseball Love Worldwide Through Delmarva Aces

Former Decatur Standouts Spreading Baseball Love Worldwide Through Delmarva Aces

BERLIN — Spreading the joy of baseball to a remote outpost halfway around the world is the latest step in the evolution of the Delmarva Aces, a growing local baseball organization that now fields 16 teams and over 200 players, as it begins a uniform and gear drive for young players in Uganda.

Founded just eight months ago by former Stephen Decatur standouts David Whigham and Mike Castrignano, the Delmarva Aces have been growing by leaps and bounds in less than a year. Whigham and Castrignano both played at the collegiate and professional level before returning to their roots on the shore to start the Delmarva Aces program.

Whether it is state-of-the-art instruction, a well-structured strength and conditioning program or a training academy, the Delmarva Aces is offering aspiring young players to pursue their baseball dreams and prepare to play at the next level, wherever that may take them. Under the tutelage of Whigham and Castrignano, along with their growing staff, the organization now fields 16 baseball and softball teams and over 200 players.

This week, Whigham and Castrignano announced they are taking their efforts global with a budding partnership with the Uganda Baseball and Softball Association Two years ago, Uganda became the first team from Africa to make the Little League World Series and a documentary “The Opposite Field” was created shortly thereafter. Uganda, a landlocked country in east Africa, has produced a handful of big leaguers in the U.S., most notably Derek Lee and Jimmy Rollins, but more often than not, the young Ugandans play on hardscrabble fields with old and broken equipment and tattered uniforms.

To that end, the Delmarva Aces has partnered with the Uganda Baseball and Softball Association to helpFormer2 bring the same quality and enjoyment of the game enjoyed in the U.S. to the young players in Africa. The partnership includes the Aces’ assistance in an equipment drive, during which the organization will collect, coordinate, pick up and ship baseball and softball equipment to Uganda. Jimmy Jaban, spokesperson for the UBASA, is the primary contact and is handling the equipment drive from the Uganda end. Items that the Aces are collecting and ultimately shipping to Uganda include jerseys, hats, baseball and softball gloves, batting gloves, catchers equipment, wooden bats, metal bats, cleats, socks and sports apparel.

“It is our goal to uniform and equip 400 players,” Whigham said this week. “We have the resources to do this. It is just a matter of collecting the respective items. Seeing players learning without shoes, wearing ripped up clothes and hitting with broken bats makes you really appreciate what we have here in the U.S. Our volunteers are contributing to a global cause, but they will also be learning a little about themselves in the process.”

Ten Delmarva Aces volunteers, including Shane Cioccio of Berlin, Brice Messick of Ocean City, Gabe Simpson of Snow Hill, Patrick Helgason of Salisbury, Brant Smith of Salisbury, Robbie Hollenbeck of Millsboro, Zach Dale of Lewes, C.J. Howell of Laurel, Dalton McDaniel of Parksley and Zach Brown of Centerville, are each headlining the drive under Whigham’s watchful eye. The 10 Aces players have already begun collecting the donated items and will continue until June 15, when the gear will be shipped to Uganda.

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to contribute to the growth of baseball worldwide,” said Whigham. “I read an article on baseball in Uganda late last winter and it made me really want to help them with the progression. Mr. Jaban has been amazing in helping coordinate this and the Aces are very thankful to participate in such a wonderful cause.”

The Aces are one of three organizations worldwide contributing to the betterment of baseball in Uganda. The other two organizations, Play Global in the U.S. and Pearl of Africa Series in Canada, have been involved for some time now, but having the Delmarva Aces involved is another component to the enhancement of Ugandan baseball. Despite the help from the other two programs, there is still a growing need of help from the outside world.

The Aces are also in the process of setting up a mission trip to Uganda from Sept. 5-15, where Whigham and Aces Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Castrignano will instruct the Ugandan youth on the basics of baseball. The pair will travel to several different baseball camps throughout the country as organized by Jaban and the USABA. Airfare has already been donated for the trip and a fundraiser is being put in place to assist the 10-day tour.

“For some of these athletes, baseball is the best part of their day,” said Castrignano. “If we can enhance that in the slightest, then our job is done.”

Those looking to donate used equipment or monetary funds to aid with the process can contact the Delmarva Aces directly at [email protected] or via phone 443-513-4717.