A Glove of Their Own: Redefining Heroes

David AllanCorrespondent IJune 10, 2009

DENVER - MAY 31:  Starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa #29 of the Colorado Rockies holds the ball in his glove as he delivers against the San Diego Padres during MLB action at Coors Field on May 31, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. De La Rosa collected the loss as the Padres defeated the Rockies 5-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Sometimes things happen in life that cause you to reevaluate definitions.
Last week an incident with a professional ball player popped up on YouTube.com; I am sure that individual, whose name I will not be using, wishes he could take back what he said and did that night.
The entirety of the footage lasts for about 30 seconds, but in that period of time, the player denies an autograph to a young man that looks to be around eight to 10 years old. Then, when a passerby calls out to the player to get him to recognize the young man, the player proceeds to get in a shouting match with this man and drops several regrettable phrases before getting in his car and leaving.

I only mention that so that I can mention this.
Who’s your hero? Where do your role models come from?
Just when I was at the peak of my frustration, fate delivered me a note. It was short and sweet and to the point, basically saying, “Call me when you have a second.” Now I had been previously introduced to what this individual does by fellow B/R author Todd Civin, but I had never before spoken to him myself.
So, after a quick deliberation, I did just that. Not 100 percent sure on what I was about to hear, I picked up the phone. After a ring or two, a guy so full of life and excitement that I couldn’t help but smile answered the other end of the line.
We ask a lot of the athletes and celebrities in today’s society. We brand them as heroes and role models, and as this man on the other end of the phone and I discussed what I had seen on YouTube, I could tell he was just as concerned as I was about the behavior I had witnessed.
But what impressed me more was that I was listening to a guy who was setting an example, was being a role model, and is most certainly a hero. That day when I picked up the phone, I could not have been more impressed with Bob Salomon. I was immediately drawn to his personality and his cause.
Bob is one of the driving forces behind the success of the book A Glove of Their Own. Written by three wonderful women, Debbie Moldovan, Keri Conkling, and Lisa Funari-Willever, and illustrated by the talented Lauren Lambaise, it is a story that connects a life lesson to a moment in time that most, if not all of us can relate to.
If this were about the promotion of a great story it would be more than worth it. That night Bob asked if I had read the book. I had to admit I had not. The first thing he did was to introduce me to the book and ask me to read it with him. You know that someone is sitting on something very special when they will let it talk for itself.
I managed to get two full paragraphs in before stopping and laughing, and Bob asked why. But he already knew the answer. He knew what was going on the other end of the phone. He knew because it is going on all across the country. If I could get my fellow Canadians in on this, I’d like it to go on all across the world.
What happened to me on the phone was exactly the reaction that Bob could’ve predicted. This story is your story, it’s the reason you ran home after school, it was the reason you tried to skip breakfast on a weekend morning. Your childhood is probably full of memories of organizing a game with your own rules, and all the quirks that went along with your own sandlot.
As I connected with the book, I realized it’s even more than that. So you ask, where are the role models? Where are the heroes?
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and in A Glove of their Own they come in the shape of a lesson taught by their lone spectator. A lesson well learned by Bob Salomon as they attempt to carry on the wishes of the old man behind the fence and “Play it Forward.”
This is not to say that we should discard “traditional” heroes, as Bob has been supported by numerous current and ex-major leaguers in his quest to promote the book and the lesson outlined in it.
That being said, the lessons that are brought to the table with every baseball game a child competes in are well learned and not easily forgotten.
So although heroes may hit 500 home runs, and they may win 300 games, the truth is a hero, and a role model, can be someone with a ton of drive and big heart. That’s what Bob Salomon is, that’s what A Glove of their Own promotes.
Most of today’s eight-year-olds will never win 288 games like Tommy John, and will never collect 3060 base hits like Craig Biggio. The partnership of Good Sports, Pitch in for Baseball and Sports Gifts and the support of quality people like them have helped put this movement closer to Bob’s ultimate goal.
I’d ask that everyone I can touch with this please take the time to visit www.agloveoftheirown.com. If everyone could only realize that, no matter how many autographs a major leaguer may sign or deny, none of those experiences will ever mean more to a youngster than playing center field like Griffey, DiMaggio, Puckett or Mays. Imitating the swing of Mattingly, Pujols or Bay. Tracking down that long fly ball for the final out to win their version of Game Seven with A Glove of their Own.