GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – In 2012, Uganda became the first team from Africa to be represented at the Little League World Series, but the underlying themes of their success story had, then, 12-year-old Green Bay native Max Bobholz wanting to help.
Bobholz noticed the lack of equipment Uganda had compared to other teams competing in the Little League World Series. That’s when an idea sparked in his head.
“I know I have extra equipment in my garage. I know all my friends do. Why don’t we try to gather that up and get it to people who would use it?” Bobholz expressed.
That’s when ‘Angels at Bat’ was formed. A local charity in northeast Wisconsin whose mission is to supply baseball equipment to communities throughout the African continent. Throughout the last decade, Bobholz has been able to send around 50,000 pieces of equipment to kids in need.
“Especially in the Green Bay community and Brown County in general, we’ve seen some immense support,” Bobholz said. “That 50,000 is all coming from generally in Wisconsin and some other groups throughout the U.S., but we still have probably over 100,000 more that we’re trying to get to different people right now.”
Bobholz is currently sending equipment to South Africa, Benin, Nigeria, and Kenya. It’s not just baseballs, bats, and gloves making the trip — Bobholz has made the trip several times to Africa to distribute the equipment and help kids learn the game even more.
“When I first went to Kenya for the first time, it was 2014, and I was 14 years old at the time. I had no real sense of the world, different cultures, different people, the communities, and things like that. So, just going there and basically distributing equipment for a sport that was brand new for the most part. Baseball was there, but it wasn’t really established and well-appreciated at the time. The initial reactions were smiles and laughing — more out of curiosity than thrill, which I thought was interesting, and I really enjoyed exploring that and helping people learn this new game and hopefully give them an opportunity to keep themselves busy,” Bobholz explained.
Now, Bobholz is 23 years old and attending the Medical College of Wisconsin. He recently teamed up with his friend and Green Bay Preble grad Max Wagner — the first Green Bay public school player drafted by an MLB team. The two are determined to give back to kids overseas with a sport that’s given them so much.
“It’s always been second nature like ‘alright, I’m going to play baseball today.’ I get that opportunity to do that. These kids in Africa don’t have that chance. So, with ‘Angels at Bat,’ I’m still from Green Bay. I’m still this little kid that would play at Optimist Park. That’s never going to change,” Baltimore Orioles prospect Max Wagner said.
“A lot of times we put a lot of pressure on sports here in the United States, and I think that we could all learn a bit from taking a step back and reflecting on what we’re really trying to do here,” Bobholz expressed.
Bobholz and Wagner are hosting the first-ever Angels at Bat fundraising gala on December 22, 2023, at the Black Sheep Wedding and Events Center. To learn more about the event or to get involved by donating equipment or money, visit https://www.angelsatbat.org/get-involved.