John Tumminia had extra time on his hands when he retired from Shawangunk Correctional Facility 3 1/2 years ago. He still had a full schedule as a Chicago White Sox scout going on 27 years. But Tumminia, who lives in the Town of Newburgh, had a little more time to do something different, something new, something special.
“Why don’t you start doing clinics around the world?” Susan Tumminia suggested to her husband.
The idea was to bring baseball to citizens of the world eager to participate in the game but unable to do so because of daunting poverty levels. In many cases, they are too poor to own bats and balls and gloves.
Tumminia conducted his first clinic in 2011 in Monte Plata, a poverty-laden town in the Dominican Republic, teaching the finer points of baseball and softball to young boys and girls. He saw the joy in the eyes of kids learning to play ball for the first time. About 300 kids took part, happily receiving bats and balls and gloves for the first time.
In August, Tumminia and his group went to the Pine Ridge, S.D., Native American Reservation. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf came through big-time, picking up the $4,000 tab for round-trip airfare for Tumminia and four fellow staffers. Locals donated about $3,000 and tons of equipment.
Now Tumminia and his group, all volunteers, are planning a trip to Kenya on Nov. 15. Tummunia is being told that 300-500 kids are awaiting instruction.
The event sure could use sponsorship, from cash donations to tees, whiffleballs, bats and youth gloves. I know it’s only January. But budgets are being developed, and Tumminia is trying to get a head start on planning before his schedule starts to thicken with a maize of reports and conference calls next month.
Those interested can drop him a line at JTUMMINIA@chisox.com. Every bit helps. And to see the looks on the faces of boys and girls introduced to the game for the first time, every dime is well spent.
firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @th_KevinGleason