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 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.
When Florida Marlin Jim Eisenreich hit a homerun in the 1997 World Series, few watching would remember that Tourette Syndrome had almost taken away his dream to play baseball. But it didn’t.
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.
The museum is part of the Little League International Complex and offers interactive exhibits, which use a hands on approach to teach about the history of Little League.
“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.
“The museum really made an impression on Kevin Costner when he was inducted,” explained Ogurcak.
“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
World Series info…http://www.littleleague.org/learn/museum.htm
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