The specially designed and limited edition West Akron Baseball League T-shirts sponsored by the Black Keys have raised around $28,000 for the youth league that once counted band members Pat Carney and Dan Auerbach among its players.
A little more than 1,000 T-shirts have been sold at $24.99 to WABL and/or Black Keys fans, with only a few smaller sizes left.
“That’s awesome … just phenomenal,” said Steve Milkovich, WABL board member and vice president of T-Ball.
WABL currently plays at west side school fields, which they are forbidden to clean up and get game-ready because they are Akron Public Schools property.
“We’re looking to improve fields and equipment and safety features for our children,” Milkovich said, noting that WABL recently dedicated an Akron RubberDucks field at Forest Lodge Park, upgraded with new backstops, with financial assistance from the city of Akron.
For Milkovich, the WABL/Black Keys experience has been “phenomenal” and he said he’s seen the T-shirts popping up all over the country.
“How great is it that Jim Carney [Pat Carney’s father and former Beacon Journal reporter] is backstage at a Saturday Night Live performance and they’re wearing the WABL shirts?” he said. “So that’s great. And I have friends on Facebook who have moved out of the area, but they’ll have a picture of themselves in Florida and a guy will have one of the shirts on. So people know about it and they think it’s great.”
Milkovich said he has yet to ask if the band will follow up with a new shirt design for next season, but he hopes the association lasts at least a little bit longer.
The organization has tentative plans to honor and recognize the boost the Black Keys have given to the league’s finances, visibility and fashion sense.
“In a dream world I hope that the boys can look at this as an annual fundraiser for us. But I’ll have to ask about that down the road, like an annual rite of spring: a new WABL/Black Keys shirt,” Milkovich said chuckling.