NEORH teammates are brothers in a common cause
By GLENN MILLER
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Being teammates means more than playing a sport together. It means pulling together, becoming brothers in a common cause, whether it’s winning baseball games or helping others.
That’s the case with the Northeast Ohio Roy Hobbs League, which raises money for Challenger Baseball. Their support includes playing a charity game with the special athletes and helping organize another one featuring the Akron RubberDucks, the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
The extent of the league’s charitable activities was detailed in a long email from Don Booth, the President of the NEO Roy Hobbs Baseball Board of Trustees.
He said in his email that “NEO Roy Hobbs” sponsors a Challenger Baseball Day every May at Canal Park, the home of the RubberDucks, donating “tickets for the Challenger Little League kids and their parents to attend” and supplying a baseball lunch for the players.
The game is an interactive event with the pros teaming up with the Challenger players on the field before the game. Booth said more than 150 people participate every year.
For NEO Roy Hobbs giving to the community isn’t limited to one day and one day only per year. Hardly.
Booth said the league “also organizes a hands-on exhibition with Challenger kids in the Tallmadge and Barberton, Ohio, Challenger Little League programs annually.”
Players from the league bring their kids and grandkids to play in an exhibition game with the Challenger kids in which, to use the parlance of these games, they “pal up.”
“Our guys play catch with the kids during warm-ups and stand on the field and help them during the game,” Booth wrote in his email. “We wear our game uniforms and pose for a picture afterward. In the past, one of our guys, Tom Evans, who owns a landscaping business, provided baseballs and baseball holders so the Roy Hobbs players could all sign the balls and the kids take them home afterward.”
Wait, there’s more. …
“I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many of our players are baseball and softball coaches in their communities,” Booth wrote. “It seems as if everyone I know has done this at one time or another. I know many, including myself, are also high school coaches and assistants. Our passion for baseball stems in part from the positive impact it has had on our lives and the life lessons we have gained from the game.
“Do you love one-on-one competition? That is a major part of our game. Are you team oriented? Even an individual star like Babe Ruth recognized the importance of teamwork to be successful on the field. Kids and grownups learn how to become a team and cooperate with people they may not be friends with and sometimes don’t even like. But, at the end of the day the associations we have made on the field have translated into lasting friendships for many of us.”
Booth’s team, the Kent Mudhens team sponsors a 15-and-over over youth team in their town.
“We also contribute ‘sweat equity’ to the upkeep of our home field, Al Lease Park, which is also used by youth teams,” Booth wrote. “This is a common occurrence among the baseball players in our league.”
He said the league maintains several fields used by high school teams.
“While this is the quid pro quo for our league’s use of these fields during our summer season, the amount of money and work we expend during the spring high school season is way beyond the cost of simply renting fields to play on,” Booth wrote. “Beside the annual application of infield mix and field conditioner and other spring rehab work to the field, in years gone by our league (then owned and operated by Roy Hobbs Baseball) has erected permanent fencing and batting cages at Old Forge Field which is used by two Akron high schools, East High School and St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
“We are currently preparing to tear out the infield grass, add topsoil to level it and replant sod. We also set up and maintain Erie Island baseball field for Buchtel High School home games.”
It’s teaming with the community to provides opportunities for baseball recreation and smiles all around when the Special Athletes succeed.