It’s surprising that I haven’t even known John Tumminia for that long; just a couple of years, and mostly through email. Surprising, since we’ve both been in professional baseball for decades. Not to mention, John is in the Pro Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame.
A little over a year ago, John called me about the charitable organization he founded, Baseball Miracles. I’d heard of the group, which puts on clinics and gives away baseball gear to underprivileged kids around the world – the “children of the poor,” John calls them. They’ve gone all over, to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, then to New York, Kentucky, Honduras, Ireland, South Africa and Kenya, and points in between. Really cool stuff.
But I’ve got to admit that when John said that day, “Clint, I’m praying about a possible role for you in Baseball Miracles, a way that you might plug in,” I interpreted it as a lead in to an ask. It’s a pleasant way to do it, to be sure. Usually well-meaning and God-honoring. Of course, saying they’ll “pray about it” often means they are already asking, and they’re really praying you’ll say yes, or if not, that they can find the words to convince you.
Instead, what John actually meant by saying that he’d pray about it was, “I’m praying about it…”
That was it. He promised.
I didn’t hear back from him for over a year. Our paths don’t cross terribly often, with him in the Chicago White Sox organization, in a different role and different league than my National League Pittsburgh Pirates, but still.
And then, John finally called back in October asking me to serve on the Advisory Board of the Baseball Miracles organization and go on future trips with them. “But Clint,” he said, “I’m good with yes, no, or maybe. Any of those – whatever you’re led to do.” He was true to his word. Not that I was inclined to say anything other than “yes,” because of the great stuff they are doing.
So I’m still getting acclimated to Baseball Miracles and what they do. I do know this, that John and the others in the organization are serious about living up to their mission “to serve others through the game of baseball.” Many of them, like John, are people of faith, and see this service, of creating memories and giving equipment, as a way to glorify God and serve others. At the same time, they are open to any and all who want to serve and be served, regardless of faith.
They’ve been all over the globe, and John’s vision remains big. He sees opportunity and need everywhere he looks, and we’re looking to expand Baseball Miracles to meet that need. Next year, there’s a trip to New Orleans during the season, and I’ll be joining them after the season for a trip to Argentina.
John told me that on every trip, he gets asked the same question by the kids. The first time it shocked him, but now he’s – sadly – ready for it. “Why are you doing this for us?” the children ask. “How did you even hear about us, hear that we exist? Nobody cares about us.” Not in a whiny, self-pitying way. Just factual.
John tells them, “You don’t know us, and we don’t really know you, but you matter. And we love you.”
And then they teach them baseball, laugh with them and love on them. Give them cleats or gloves or shirts to keep. And hugs.
Baseball Miracles is looking to not only take further trips, but continue to interact with the kids they’ve already touched, and have touched them. They send a personalized baseball card by the professional photographer they take on the trips to every child, but want to include more: coats, mittens and stocking caps, gloves and balls.
For further information on this organization doing good, lifting spirits and spreading love, head over to www.baseballmiracles.org.
We’re good with you plugging into what we’re doing. We’re also good with “Maybe,” or even “No.”