With the help of a few friends and colleagues, White Sox scout John Tumminia is doing his best to share baseball with children overseas, specifically those who, because of circumstances beyond their control, would never have the luxury.
Tumminia is the co-founder of Baseball Miracles, a foundation that brings professional-grade instruction and equipment to places where baseball is, for the most part, out of reach.
So far, Baseball Miracles has brought clinics to the Dominican Republic and the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. The clinics the group provides are free, and are taught by a staff with countless years of experience at the game’s highest level.
Along with Tumminia, the instructional staff includes co-founder Sean Kober, Rob Bell, Daraka Shaheed, Eric Claro and Mike McCarthy.
Bell pitched professionally for 14 seasons, including stints with the Reds, the Rangers, the Diamondbacks and the Orioles. Shaheed played professionally for two seasons in Houston’s system and, like Tumminia, is a member of the White Sox scouting department. McCarthy is a Red Sox farmhand and pitched this season for the Portland Sea Dogs and the Salem Red Sox.
Claro played the game in college and briefly in the independent leagues, and has coached high schoolers. Kober played in junior college and does the legwork to help secure the equipment his organization donates.
As for future plans, the group will travel this winter to Dublin and Limerick, Ireland, for clinics on January 18 and 19. The group also has plans to travel to Kenya in February, but they aren’t cemented.
The trip to Ireland is being organized in part by John Fitzgerald, the filmmaker behind the “Playing for Peanuts” series, which followed former Mets first baseman Wally Backman on his travels through across the country as the manager of the South Georgia Peanuts, a now-defunct independent league team.
Fitzgerald has reached out to Shaun Clancy, the owner of Foley’s Pub and Restaurant — located in New York City — and the president of the Irish-American Baseball Hall of Fame, to help secure funds for the group’s trip to Ireland.
Details surrounding the fundraiser aren’t cemented, but Clancy made it clear that he and Foley’s intend to help Baseball Miracles in any way possible.
“We’re very excited to help them and we’re very anxious to help them,” he said. “We’re very anxious to do anything that’s going to help and to increase baseball in Ireland.”
The group also employs Todd Bliss, a freelance sports photographer. The group’s former photographer started the tradition of making personalized baseball cards for the campers, and that practice will continue going forward.
And while the power of seven men is a great start, the group needs help. It needs financial help to secure everything from airline tickets to shipping costs. It also needs donations of equipment. Bats, balls, gloves, tees, or any other kind of equipment that would aid in the instruction process is welcomed.