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The Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, A Glove of their Own & The Jim Eisenreich Making a Difference By Jay O’Conner WCN Sports It is amazing how one life could drastically change wi…
It is amazing how one life could drastically change with hard work, a passion, and dedication. Three years ago, Bob Salomon was just a regular family man with a wife, two kids, and a full-time job for the state of New Jersey. These days you can also find him at the center of a unique movement with the commitment to making a difference. As the co-creator and driving force behind the children’s book, “A Glove of Their Own,” Bob has watched numerous organizations and foundations use his book as a platform to spread the message of giving and helping children.
“A Glove of Their Own” is a story about paying it forward and children who play baseball simply for the love of the game. You’ll find no coaches, no concession stands, and sometimes just an old bat and ball. This is the way baseball was meant to be. It has the power to touch both the old and young, with the underlining theme of both kindness and “paying it forward”.
Salomon now collaborates with some of the biggest names in sports, as he has gained the trust of the hundreds that support him. “A Glove of Their Own” has received recognition and attention on a national level, with numerous accolades and supporters that include both former and current players alike. The endless list features names such as Yogi Berra, Joe Torre, Tommy John, Phil Niekro, Bud Harrelson, Doug Glanville, Roy White, Bernie Williams, Eric Chavez, and Nelson Cruz, among many others. Even companies such as Louisville Slugger, Modell’s, Rawlings, and Upper Deck have joined the cause.
Bob’s latest addition to the list of superstars is former baseball great Jim Eisenreich.
Jim is a huge supporter of Bob Salomon and the movement he created surrounding “A Glove Of Their Own”
Jim Eisenreich and Bob will be at the Little League World Series Aug. 23rd through Aug.25th, signing copies of the award winning children’s book “A Glove Of Their Own”.
Proceeds from the signing will go to the Jim Eisenreich Foundation to help children wth Tourette Syndrom.
Jim had a normal childhood and a loving family but at age 6 he began to exhibit some strange symptoms. He had tics and jerks, and couldn’t quit blinking his eyes. His family accepted this behavior. But at school, where the social pressures can be enormous, he struggled.
The doctor in his hometown of St. Cloud, Minnesota didn’t understand and the teachers assumed that he could stop the strange behavior anytime he wished. Other children teased Jim. Even a junior high school coach made fun of him when he heard Jim clearing his throat uncontrollably. The reaction of outsiders made Jim feel that he must be crazy. He spent a lot of time alone, the only safe place for a child who feels different
Despite Jim’s feelings of being different, one thing that saved him was sports. The same
kids who had teased him were the first to pick him for the after school games. Jim was the
best player in the neighborhood and the other kids knew it. After a successful high school
and college baseball career, the Minnesota Twins drafted Jim. In his 1982 rookie season,
he hit .303 as the center fielder. It was a dream come true, but his troubles were not over.
Two months into the season, Jim began to feel embarrassed about his tics, which made
them even worse. They became so bad that he had to come off the field in the middle of
an inning. This happened three nights in a row at Boston’s Fenway Park. When the team
returned to Minneapolis, the team doctor checked him into a hospital.
A diagnosis was difficult to determine. The doctors disagreed about his problem. Some
thought it was psychological, but Jim was sure his mental health was not the problem.
Finally after years of testing, Jim was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. The disorder
was brought under control with medication and Jim was available to play again. In 1986,
the Kansas City Royals picked up the waiver on Jim’s contract for one-dollar.
Jim’s move to Kansas City and his return to baseball changed his life. In 1989 Jim was named the Royals most valuable player while playing with other baseball greats including George Brett and Bo Jackson. It was also in Kansas City that he met his wife, Leann and found a supportive group of friends that helped him find a social acceptance off the field while he re-established his baseball career.
Jim went on to play in two World Series. The first was with the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies in 1993 and then with the 1997 World Series Champion Florida Marlins. These events brought Jim and Tourette Syndrome to a national level and planted the seeds of what he really wanted to do with his life.
In baseball stadiums all around the country, Jim speaks to children and their families about his story. He speaks from experiences that were painful and he speaks from his heart. He has forgiven those who made fun of him and in turn ask them for their help in getting the message out about Tourette Syndrome.
By establishing the Jim Eisenreich Foundation for Children with Tourette Syndrome, Jim has found a way to help others achieve their dreams.
Janice Ogurcak, director and curator of the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.Janice shared her excitement when she learned Eisenreich’s visit. She is a huge supporter of “A Glove of Their Own” and eager to help the movement in anyway.
Ogurcak is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operation of the museum, which has about 30,000 visitors each year. She and her staff are responsible for maintenance of the many Little League artifacts, rotation of exhibits, special events, the museum gift shop and educational programs.
“During that ten day period, our attendance at the museum will jump from about 100 visitors per day to anywhere from 500 to 1000″ added Ogurcak. “We expect about 10,000 people to walk through the museum next week alone.”
The most inspiring part of the museum is the Little League Hall of Excellence, where visitors enjoy the motivating stories of Little League graduates, who have gone on to distinguished careers as adults.
Members are selected not for what they did on the diamond, but for their contribution to society and include Ozzie Newsome, Dusty Baker, George W. Bush, Tom Selleck and even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, each of whom grace the walls of the Hall of Excellence.
“He was so moved by the museum that he wanted to play on the ball field. He ended up taking a group of Little Leaguers onto the field at 11:00 that night to play baseball.”
The museum gift shop has recently adopted the book A Glove of Their Own as a way to teach sharing and baseball to their many guests.
“We have a lot of people come into the shop, who know the book and how popular it is around the country. I am impressed that they know of the book considering it has been out such a short time.”
“We were hopeful that the Bob Salomon and his team of professional athletes continue to visit”
“The ideals and principles taught in our book are identical to those taught in Little League”, said Salomon. “Teamwork, sharing and love of the game by our children, walks hand in hand in the book and in the spirit of Little League.”
“It’s a perfect match,” he added. “I’m truly humbled and excited that the Little League Museum is supporting our book.”
Please support the movement and meet Jim Eisenreich and Bob Salomon,Aug.23rd through Aug.25th….spread the word!
The museum is located on U.S. Route 15 in South Williamsport, Pa., next to the Little League International Administration Building
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Bob Salomon is the co-creator and driving force behind a book called A Glove of Their Own. We have become friends because of our shared passion and goal of helping kids in the world of sports. We both have books that promote this passion and I have joined Bob’s movement to give back, so that all kids around the world will have the necessary sports equipment to enjoy the game the way baseball was meant to be enjoyed. Bob has taken a heartfelt baseball book, A Glove of Their Own, and turned it into a movement to raise awareness, raise funds, and to motivate everyone involved with baseball to “play the game forward” by giving back in any possible way. After all, it’s just a kid’s game. I am proud to have lent my name to Bob’s vision and you will see why in the following (discussion) interview.
Jack Perconte – Bob, I was immediately taken back to my days of playing baseball as a kid when I read your book. Give a summary of your book “A Glove of their Own.”
Bob Salomon – It’s a book that brings you back to the days of playing baseball with friends at that special place. The story is about underprivileged children playing for the pure passion of the game. A life changing experience happens to the kids, and a wonderful message of “paying it forward” will be with them forever. Have a tissue box nearby.
Jack – I mentioned how your book reminded me of my youth, but I also believe it is an important book for kids to read so that they realize how things were back in the day, and also, how conditions are in other parts of our country and in other countries around the world where equipment is not readily available. How did this book get started and what was the inspiration behind it all?
Bob – I am a little league coach who loves the game and always will help children in need, if I can. Two moms with the same passions of loving kids wrote and brought this story to me. I got the chills when I first read the words and asked them if they would follow my vision and work on this together as a team. We then contacted Franklin Mason Press Publishing and Lisa Willever joined us. All of us went to work. My dream and vision started, it was published, and the ball has been rolling ever since.
Jack – I am also a big supporter of you and your mission because you are not out to just make money but also to give back as I know you donate much of your proceeds to different organizations that provide baseball equipment to underprivileged kids. Your project is much more than a book but “A Movement,” would you explain that and your passion for helping kids?
Bob – I had this vision of not only getting this book published, but creating a “pay it forward movement” that will help kids throughout the world. When people give back they obviously feel good about helping others. The book is the vehicle that will drive us to deliver new and used sporting goods equipment or raise funds to children in need by using this story as a fund raiser. The movement has taken a lot of turns but it keeps growing and growing. The book has won the Ben Franklin Award and has been nominated for the book of the year for other book award organizations.
Jack – I often tell my students, when I am asked about the major leagues, that there are many ways to make it to the big leagues (of life) – Did you ever dream that you would be involved in something this big?
Bob – Yes and no. Once I read the story, I envisioned a big picture and knew it could get big and even global. But deep down you are never sure of how big. I have been amazed at how fast it has taken off. I am getting the support from legends like Yogi Berra and Joe Torre. I just smile and look to the man upstairs. It’s just hard to believe the speed it has gone and all the friendships I have made with many great athletes. Grateful!
Jack – Wow, you may have dreamed that your movement would become big but that has to be awesome to work with Hall of Fame guys like Yogi Berra. What advice would you give people about finding their passion and following up on it?
Bob – Ever since we are kids everyone tells you to follow your dreams and don’t’ give up. But first it’s important to not let your passion overtake your family. The priorities of family and children have to be your number one passion. Second, after family then it’s hard work and don’t quit. And always, always do the right thing – don’t let greed take over and don’t let negative people discourage you – we all run into a lot of negative people who won’t talk to you because they have made it, but you can’t let that discourage you from reaching out to people. The ingredients I mentioned of hard work and not getting discouraged are the key.
Jack – Who are some of the other great baseball guys who have helped you get the word out about “A Glove of their Own?” –
Bob – Guys that look out for children, family men who want to make kids feel good. Guys like Tommy John, Jim Eisenreich, Doug Glanville, Dick Drago, Phil Niekro, Bud Harrelson, Michael Cudyer, Nelson Cruz, and Joe Torre are special people who go over and above – They all believe in the movement to help.
· Jack – That is great that you are reaching out to the different generations of ball players because baseball has such a great tradition. It is especially cool that some of the stars of today are joining in because fans often think of the modern player as rich, uncaring people. It sounds like you are finding out that that is far from the truth.
I know that you are a father of young kids playing sports, what has been your biggest challenge of raising your kids in sports?
Bob – As far as baseball, the number one think I fight and don’t accept are coaches whose only goal is winning and are only out for their own child. This type of coach will use other kids to help their own feel better about themselves. This upsets me the most – so many other kids get slighted to advance these coaches agendas and own kids. I’m sure we all know someone like this. Not Right!
Jack – As you know one of my passions (along with baseball, of course, is helping youth in sports by helping parents become more aware of their behavior. If you could change anything about youth sports today, what would that be?
Bob – Having mainly only dealt with little league baseball up to this point, I feel they need to figure out a better system than the player draft. The draft system is manipulated to stack a few teams and the same five kids get picked year after year by the same coaches, who they know very well. When this happens, five or six new kids to the team usually get slighted. The selected five are the ones that usually get the special treatment – The five kids are usually the complete pitching rotation. (So sad) Maybe cancel the draft and have players more randomly selected so more balance is the result. I have seen many coaches treat Little League like they are running a major league team. I am going to try and get little leagues attention to cancel the draft – figure out a fairer system – it’s been the same system but it’s never addressed. I feel coaches should coach kids because they love to help kids – That’s it! No draft is needed.
· Jack – How have you been able to find the time to do all that you have for the book and work full time?
Bob – Time is my worst enemy and it’s hard with a family and all but I am not complaining.
I get yelled at a lot by my wife, but as I mentioned I take care of family first then try to do a lot when children go to bed – go with little sleep and use spare moments wisely. I won’t stop till A Glove of Their Own is well known throughout country.
Jack – Do you have other projects, book or otherwise in the works?
Bob – My son is a big football guy and my daughter is a dancer so I promised them I will do a story about both. My next project is a football book about a father and son enjoying the game. The story will bring good people in sports together, and we will continue helping children in need and we hope to put smiles on children’s faces. It will be a positive message and I am most thrilled and excited that my friend, former major leaguer, author, ESPN voice Doug Glanville, is going to join me in creating the book and what surrounds it. It will have a poetic touch and hope to warm your heart. My dance one will follow — man it’s going to be tough – I look horrible in tights!
Jack – Just wanted to conclude by saying that Bob’s book A Glove of Their Own can be bought at www.agloveoftheriown.com and the buyer can pick a charity where he or she would like $3.00 per book be donated to the various charities listed on the site. To me it makes a fantastic coffee table book that can be read in a short time, and reread, and you will love the illustrations (kids having fun) in the book. Every baseball family should have it on their coffee table.
Finally, we did some pretty good name dropping in the interview and the names need no introduction to any baseball fan, but here is a short bio of those mentioned.
Yogi Berra – Hall of Fame baseball great, 13 World Series Rings – Oh My God! Need I say anything more.
Tommy John – 288 career wins – Future hall of famer for sure. How do you win 288 games after major, major arm surgery – gee, what is the name of that surgery, anyway.
Joe Torre – A no doubt Hall of Famer as a great player and manager. Mister October of modern day mangers.
Phil Niekro – Another awesome Hall of Famer
Jim Eisenreich – Former major league player who now runs the Jim Eisenreich Foundation for Children with Tourette’s Syndrome which was founded in 1996; its goal is to help children with TS to achieve personal success. Even better than the baseball hall of fame – a Hall of Fame person who helps others.
Doug Glanville – Former major leaguer, writer and author and first class gentleman. His book is The Game From Where I Stand, and is another must read baseball book. Buzz Bissinger called Doug’s book “a book of uncommon grace and elegance…filled with insight and a certain kind of poetry.” Whoever said that we ball players were just a bunch of “dumb jocks.”
Dick Drago & Bud Harrelson are former major league players who had distinguished careers.
Michael Cuddyer & Nelson Cruz are current major league stars.
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