Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tee Off With The Tiants At The El Tiante/NaviNet Celebrity Golf Classic

Some how, the thought of puffing on a Cuban, while putting on hole 18, with one of my boyhood heroes, Luis Tiant, seems like it may fall under the heading of "Pinch me, I think I'm dreaming."

Then sprinkle in a few other Boston legends, including Bill Lee, Jim Rice and Big Papi, while shooting a round on New England's Premier Golf Course, and we're talking an 'out of body experience.'

Well, On September 14th at the TPC-Boston, you can tee off with El Tiante and friends at the Inaugural El Tiante/NaviNet Celebrity Golf Classic with all proceeds going to the Luis Tiant Charitable Foundation.

I joked with Luis Tiant Jr, the son of the Red Sox most beloved Cuban pitcher, and the driving force behind the Foundation when we talked about the upcoming event.

Somehow, I envisioned The Senior Tiante, teeing up on hole number one, twisting and gyrating with his head cocked sky-ward, much like he did when he took the mound at Fenway in the mid seventies.

"As the crowd looks on", I quipped, "El Tiante takes a puff of his Cuban, comes to the belt, and slowly jiggles his hands down his belly as he putts for birdie on hole 18."

"Not so" explained the younger Tiant, who has also been busy promoting his father's recent film, The Lost Son of Havana. "Actually Dad is a really good golfer. At almost 69, he can still drive the ball 300 + yards."

After eating a slice of humble pie since my best drive doesn't quite rival that distance, I asked Luis Jr about the event.

"We expect to have David Ortiz, Jim Rice, Doug Flutie, Jeff Juden, John Valentin, Bill Lee, Jim Lonborg, Bob Montgomery, Sam McDowell, Jamie Kaler (TBS-My Boys) and many more guests, explained Luis, Jr. "We hope to have one celebrity as a part of each foursome."

"We will also have Live and a Silent Auction. We are very excited about this wonderful event and are thrilled to have NaviNet as our primary sponsor.

All proceeds from the event will be going to the Luis Tiant Charitable Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) organization.

The event will begin at 11:00 AM with a shotgun start and will include a boxed lunch, use of carts and a reception dinner following the event.

What better way to close a business deal, reward your valued employees, promote your business or corporation, or simply shoot a round with El Tiante and some of Boston's biggest sports legends during this outstanding day of golf.

For those who are not golfer's but still hope to participate in the event there are many sponsorship opportunities. All donations are tax deductible.

For more information on the event or to become a sponsor, contact Luis at (508) 259-8216 or at

Sponsorship opportunities are as follows:

GOLD SPONSOR-- $25,000.00

  • Three Foursomes -- Nine Golfers Plus three Celebrity Golfers
  • Company or Product Name included in Television, Radio, Print Media Advertising, and Press Releases acknowledging
  • Company as the Title Sponsor
  • Company name and logo included on Cover and inside of Tournament Program Book
  • Company name & logo featured as Title Sponsor on a large Tournament Banner prominently displayed on the Clubhouse deck facing Golf Course, and in the Clubhouse throughout the entire day of event
  • Company name and logo printed on the Official Golf Tournament Shirt and Hat
  • Opportunity to include promotional materials in all golfer “Goody Bags”
  • Reserved Seating for Golf Awards Dinner

SILVER SPONSOR -- $15,000.00

  • Two Foursomes -- Six Golfers Plus two Celebrity Golfers
  • Company or Product Name included in Television, Radio, Print Media Advertising, and Press Releases acknowledging
  • Company as Silver Sponsor.
  • Company name and logo included on inside of Tournament Program.
  • Company name & logo featured as Silver Sponsor on a large Tournament Banner prominently displayed in the
  • Clubhouse throughout the entire day of event, and both a Green and Tee marker at a hole and Green of your choice.
  • Opportunity to include promotional materials in all golfer “Goody Bags”
  • Reserved Seating for Golf Awards Dinner

BRONZE SPONSOR -- $10,000.00

  • One Foursome -- Three Golfers Plus one Celebrity Golfer
  • Company or Product Name included in Television, Radio, Print Media Advertising, and Press Releases acknowledging
  • Company as Bronze Sponsor.
  • Company name and logo included on inside of Tournament Program Book.
  • Company name & logo featured as Bronze Sponsor on a large Tournament Banner prominently displayed in the Clubhouse throughout the entire day of event, and both a Green and Tee marker at a hole and Green of your choice.
  • Opportunity to include promotional materials in all golfer “Goody Bags”
  • Reserved Seating for Golf Awards Dinner

GOLF CART SPONSOR -- $7,500.00

  • One Foursome -- Three Golfers Plus one Celebrity Golfer
  • Company name and logo displayed on all Golf Carts.
  • Company name and logo displayed on banner at Reception.
  • Company name and logo included on inside of Tournament Program.

DINNER SPONSOR -- $5,000.00

  • One Foursome -- Three Golfers Plus One Celebrity Golfer
  • Company will receive verbal and written recognition throughout Tournament Reception and Award Ceremony. Company name and logo will be displayed on all dining tables and at all Function Hall serving stations.
  • Company name and logo included on inside of Tournament Program.


  • Company name and logo will appear on cover of Program Book.
  • Company will receive verbal and written recognition throughout Tournament Reception and Award Ceremony.

Box Lunch Sponsor -- $2,500.00

  • Company will receive verbal and written recognition as lunch sponsor throughout Tournament.
  • Company name and logo will appear inside Program Book.


  • One Foursome -- Three Golfers Plus One Celebrity Golfer
  • Company name and logo displayed on a Green and Tee marker.

GOODY BAG SPONSOR -- $2,000.00

  • Company name and logo will appear on front of each “Goody Bag” given out to each tournament participant.
  • Company will receive verbal and written recognition throughout Tournament Reception and Award Ceremony.
  • Company name and logo will appear inside Program Book.

HOLE-IN-ONE SPONSOR – - ( Automobile ) - Lynn/Waugh Group

  • Company name and logo will appear inside Program Book.
  • Company will receive verbal and written recognition throughout Tournament Reception and Award Ceremony. Company name and logo will be displayed on banner at selected contest hole.


  • Company name and logo displayed on all Tournament beverage carts.
  • Company will receive verbal and written recognition throughout Tournament Reception and Award Ceremony.
  • Company name and logo included on inside of Tournament Program.


  • Company will receive verbal and written recognition throughout Tournament Reception and logo banner will be displayed at Award Ceremony.
  • Company name and logo included on inside of Tournament Program.


  • Company name or logo, business promotion, or name honoring a loved one will be displayed on a Green or Tee sign.
  • Company name and logo included on inside Tournament Program Book.

The Luis Tiant Charitable Foundation

The Luis Tiant Charitable Foundation has been created to streamline the ways in which Luis Tiant (El Tiante) gives of his time to assist several Charitable Organizations through fund-raising events.

The foundation will provide assistance to several children’s charities, youth programs, Catholic Church programs, and family assistance programs. The Luis Tiant Charitable Foundation will provide various opportunities for Corporations, Business Entities, and Foundations to be a positive influence in Children’s lives, assist in developing and maintaining a variety of programs within our Communities, and also give hope to Families in need of assistance.

NaviNet is America's largest real-time healthcare communications network. The company was founded in founded in 1998 on the basis that America’s healthcare industry can be made more inclusive, transparent and cost-effective by connecting providers, health plans and industry partners in real-time.

NaviNet is deeply committed and singularly focused on this vision and has worked for more than a decade to make this powerful concept a reality. Today, NaviNet is America’s largest real-time healthcare communications network. We securely link over 750,000 providers—as well as our nation’s leading plans and valued industry partners—through a single Web site.

The TPC-Boston
The TPC-Boston was originally designed by legendary player/designer Arnold Palmer and is considered to be one of the area's premiere golf courses. "Our design and reverence for nature are the hallmarks of truly great golf courses, and TPC Boston’s championship layout is no exception." Star-Rating Guide

TPC Boston’s award-winning layout was re-designed in 2007 by celebrated golf course architect Gil Hanse, with PGA TOUR player Brad Faxon serving as a consultant. The result is a compelling par-72, 7,241-yard masterpiece named by Golf Digest the “Best Private Remodel of 2007.”

Crafted to fit seamlessly into the natural New England landscape, lush fairways and Bentgrass greens traverse gently rolling hills, with stands of mature trees, chocolate-drop mounds, numerous wetland areas, fescues and native grasses, and 92 deep bunkers creating a stunning backdrop for this superb test of golf in Norton’s Great Woods.

While challenging enough for the best players in the world during the DEUTSCHE BANK CHAMPIONSHIP, five sets of tees on each hole make the course enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels.

TPC–Boston is located at 400 Arnold Palmer Blvd. in Norton, MA. 02766.

Todd Civin is a freelance writer for the Bleacher Report and Seamheads and a supporter of the children's story, A Glove of Their Own. To purchase your copy of the award winning book that teaches paying it forward through baseball visit the site and purchase under donor code LTF223 Luis Tiant Charitable Foundation. $3.00 from each sale will go to Luis and his foundation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Boston Red Sox Second Most Famous Ted....May He Rest In Peace

My Dad, Marty, drinks coffee each morning with the old farts down at McDonald's. Each of the Alter Kockers (Yiddish for old goat) has their self proclaimed assigned seat. Marty's seat is the furthest seat to the left because as Marty states "there is no one further to the left of center" in regards to their political views.

So it should come as no surprise that the entire Civin family is mourning the loss of the liberal Democrat Senator from Massachusetts Edward "Ted" Kennedy, who died this morning at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis, MA after battling brain cancer.

This story is not one to share my political views as there are two things that I try to keep out of my public forum, politics and religion (Thank God, right?). This is simply to share a special moment that my wife, Katie, and I shared with Ted and 36,756 of his closest friends.

Our brush with Senator Ted occurred at Opening Day, 2009 in Fenway Park. Katie and I scored tickets through one of the Red Sox ticket drawings. We dropped $150 for the two seats as far back in the Bleachers as you can possibly sit. In fact, the tickets said we were inside Fenway, but I suspect the GPS had us in Cambridge.

It didn't matter to Katie and I. We were inside the friendly confines on Opening Day and as the saying goes, "It Don't Get No Better Than That."

But then it did. The clock struck 4:06 in honor of another immortal Teddy Ballgame and Katie and I tried to squeeze through the crowded concourse before the first pitch was thrown. After the obligatory stop in the beer line to fill up and to the bathroom to empty, Katie and I fought to get to our cherished throne.

The narrow hall ways of our beloved temple were more crowded than they've ever been as faithful fans were seemingly squeezed into the Fens with a shoe horn that day.

As we finally saw daylight one of Boston's Men in Blue stood in front of us keeping us from our appointed route. Katie and I laughed and knew we were destined to miss Beckett's first fast ball. Murphy's Law I suppose. Just our luck.

And then in an instant our luck changed. Our mouths dropped open. We looked at each other, tears welling up inside as Sir Edward passed within inches of us and the onlooking crowd. And we clapped. All of us clapped.

We knew that Kennedy's appearance transcended political lines. For that moment none of us were Democrats or Republicans. Conservatives or Liberals. We were simply human beings who found ourselves in the presence of an American icon.

Teddy looked old and worn and from what we later found out his first pitch will go down in the portals of Red Sox history as one of the weakest first pitches ever. Teddy stood on the mound as Jim Rice squatted a mere 5-6 feet from Teddy and his bright Red warm-up jacket.

The ball flipped helplessly out of Teddy's hand and trickled to Rice's feet. The Fenway faithful didn't care either, but stood and cheered long and loud.

We suspected that Teddy wouldn't be seeing many more Opening Days and we were right.

Katie and I made our way to our seats in the nose bleed section as the Star Spangled Banner played. We stood tall and proud with our hands placed firmly across our hearts.

We had had a brush with greatness that far overshadowed the final score.

There's a new kid on your team, God. He's finally joining his brothers. I hear he's a lefty, God. But please, don't let him pitch.

Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for The Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He can be reached at for comment or hire.

He is also a supporter of A Glove of Their Own, the award winning children's book that teaches the act of Paying it Forward through baseball. Please visit our site to purchase this book that is sure to become a classic. Purchase under today's donor code JNF636 The Joe Niekro Foundation.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Day Behind The Dish With Catching Great Brent Mayne

During my nine month run as a sports journalist wannabe, I've been blessed to have interviewed and become friendly with some pretty amazing people.

Who would have thought that a 40-something warehouse manager would have the good fortune to speak with David McCarty, Brian McRae, Jason Grilli, Garrett Berger (all of MLB fame), Roger Crawford (Most Recognized Physically Challenged Athlete) and Kelley Smith (Women's Professional Soccer)?

Sort of surreal. Each day I pinch myself to make sure that I am not in some sort of John Nash-like mania and I only think I'm talking to these amazing athletes.

With several more in the on-deck circle, I truly question whether I may have died in my sleep and ended up in locker room heaven. I expect to find myself with a lifetime supply of Big League Chew while being surrounded by athletes dressed in towels as far as the eye can see.

So, when Coach Bob Salomon, of "A Glove of Their Own" fame, called and asked me if I wanted to meet another one of his baseball friends. I chuckled, shook my head and took down catcher Brent Mayne's phone number.

With my palms sweating slightly and finger trembling, I keyed in Brent's number, feeling almost the same as when I used to call up Roberta Welch when I was in sixth grade ("Oh...I hope she doesn't answer..I hope my voice doesn't crack").

Much to my good fortune (I guess), Brent answered the phone and seemed to overlook the crackle in my voice as I introduced myself. For the next hour, Mayne entertained me with his sense of humor, his candidness and his immense knowledge of, not only of the sport of baseball, but about the thought process, physical skill and tremendous amount of knowledge he possessed from his crouch behind the plate.

Tools of ignorance? I think not. A finer human being, you'll never meet. Thoughtful, kind and generous with his time and his intelligence. And his passion for the sport of baseball explodes out of his soft spoken voice.

"I really love the game of baseball and find it endlessly fascinating. It can teach you something new daily if you can be open and listen. Lessons that can be of benefit both on the field and off."

And Mayne's book the "Art of Catching-The Secret's and Techniques of Baseball's Most Demanding Position", which is a must for every baseball players library, should be forever referred to by the oxi-moron "The Tool of Ignorant Intelligence."

Mayne caught in the major leagues for fifteen seasons for seven major league teams, primarily with the Kansas City Royals. In his book, he takes everything he learned during his career as a backstop and folds it neatly between the pages of this beautiful instructional how-to manual/why to manual.

"I wrote the book because there is such a void of information on the catching position", explained Mayne, who boasts a .263 lifetime batting average to go with an incredible lifetime fielding percentage of .993.

"For a game that has been pretty well dissected from every angle to have nothing on the most important defensive position on the field seems goofy to me. My primary purpose was to share my experience of 15 years behind the dish and a unique and new catching philosophy with the baseball community."

The book, which is available through Mayne's extremely entertaining and informative website at, as well as on, covers everything the catcher must know including:

  • Athletic posture and stances
  • Glove mechanics and throwing to bases
  • Pitchouts, backpicks, and handling pop flies
  • Calling games and working with pitchers
  • Getting the most out of drills and bullpen time
  • What it takes to play in the big leagues

The book even includes every Mom's favorite chapter, "Making plays at the plate without getting hurt."

"The catcher is the most important defensive position on the field, yet is by far the most misunderstood. In The Art of Catching, I distill years of Major League experience to provide cutting-edge overviews of all the crucial technical aspects of the position."

The information in the book can be utilized by players from Little League to the major leagues. It is filled with many photos and illustrations, summaries of key points, and thought-provoking quotations.

"The book is doing great and we actually just went to a second printing. I do have plans for a second book, but I'm planning to do video clip series first."

Mayne, who ranks fourth in all-time career fielding percentage (.993) and 75th for games caught (1143), resides in Orange County, California where he gives both private and group catching lessons. He also appears through out the country at several camps and clinics.

"When I'm not catching, I'm usually chasing the kids around, surfing, golfing, or doing yoga. My family and I like to fish and travel, too."

His website is well designed and packed with additional information. It includes a tip of the day and a blog which Mayne posts on frequently. His recent post entitled Memories is a hilarious look at 1980's baseball cards, while his column of September 17, 2008 on steroid use in the 90's is a MUST READ.

Despite spending a decade and a half in the bigs and catching Brent Saberhagen's 1991 no-hitter, Mayne's greatest baseball moment occurred on August 22, 2000.

"I was playing for the Rockies and we had run out of available pitchers in an extra-inning game against the Braves. I had to go in and pitch and ended up getting the win."

Mayne had been kept out of the starting line-up by an injury to his left shoulder. He pitched a scoreless 12th inning before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the frame because the injury prevented him from swinging a bat correctly. The Rockies scored a run for a 7-6 win making Mayne the first position player to to win a game since 1968 (Rocky Calavito).

His other career highlights include "going to the playoffs in 2004 with the Dodgers, winning the Southern League with the Memphis Chicks in 1990, playing for my Dad (Mike Mayne), and all of the great folks I met in baseball."

I hung up the phone knowing that I added another brush with greatness to my quickly growing resume. I pinched myself, shook my head and recited Brent's off used words of wisdom from his website...

"Til next time, have fun, play hard, and keep your eye on the ball."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Joe Niekro: Daddy's Little Girl Knuckles Up for Aneurysm Research

It's funny how life sometimes brings you down a path you didn't plan to walk down. You welcome its existence and take the first step with a slight sense of trepidation.

You assume you know where you are headed but oftentimes have no idea what is in store. You walk slowly and instead of finding what you hoped to find, you find something far more magnificent.

It's what keeps life interesting and makes you realize that things happen for a reason and that you are exactly where God expects you to be.

I came upon a story about the First Annual Knuckle Ball while doing a piece with former major league catcher Ed Herrmann. I assumed that I was being given an extra little nugget as a reward for doing a story about Herrmann's Charity Golf Tournament.

Herrmann was one of the guests at the gala event created by Natalie Niekro, the daughter of the late, great knuckle ball pitcher Joe Niekro. The younger half of the famed knuckleballing family (Phil, Joe and now Joe's son Lance) died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm on October of 2006.

His daughter Natalie formed The Joe Niekro Foundation as a way of keeping her dad alive and to aid in the research and treatment of aneurysm patients and families. The Foundation's goal is to raise awareness about aneurysm factors, causes, treatments, and research.

I decided to call Natalie and ask her about the success of the event and perhaps direct someone to the Foundation's site. After all, even though she wasn't a baseball great, she is the daughter of one, and that's almost just as good.

I dialed the phone nervously, unsure if it was because I was about to talk to the daughter of one of baseball's great pitchers or because I sensed that my inner self was about to change.

She answered; I introduced myself and told her the nature of my call.

In an instant, the tone of Natalie Niekro's voice changed from VP of Marketing and Advertising Professional to the voice of a little girl, who hurt very badly inside after losing her hero, her mentor, her friend.

She opened up immediately and shared stories about her father and what he meant to her through out her life. Tears streamed down Natalie's face and her voice cracked frequently, as she spoke of her hero. A hero that she loved and idolized from the moment she was old enough to know how great a daddy is.

She spoke of Joe as a role model and as a caring and empathetic human being, who was so much more than just the face on the baseball card that we all collected as kids and how awestruck she was by the support and commitment that those in attendance showed her father and her family.

Natalie's blog reads as follows, written four days after the July 31 event: "I was absolutely amazed and humbled at the level of support and dedication of everyone that had come to pay tribute to the man that I have the privilege of calling my father."

"There is no other place that I would have rather been than in that stadium honoring the man that will forever be a hero in my eyes. And as I recalculate all the events that took place these past few days, I am so thankful and so honored for everyone’s support."

We talked for about an hour or more not about the Knuckle Ball, but about what she and the Foundation are trying to do to prevent other little girls from losing their dads or moms.

Perhaps more than anything we talked about the little girl who still misses her dad very badly even though over three years have past since he went away.

I suddenly realized that the story I needed to tell was not one about the Baseball's Who's Who that attended the event or even about the Foundation's goals and commitment to aiding in the research and treatment of aneurysm patients and families.

It's about the little girl with the baseball dad and how she thinks about him every day.

So, before I shut off the computer and go hug my own mom and dad, I leave you with the words of Natalie Niekro and ask you to visit the Joe Niekro Foundation for her and her for dad.


Written by: Natalie Niekro at age 7

Spring Training is here and baseball is starting,
which means that my Dad and I will be parting.
His baseball career is his dream-come-true
But the time we’re apart makes me so sad and blue.

Though Winter’s a memory and flowers now bloom,
I find that my heart is filled with some gloom.
While others are planning their parties and things
I only can think of what Spring to me brings.

Our time together was great but now it must end
For the Astros have called on my very best friend.
Dad’s a wonderful pitcher...three strikes and you’re out
I sit by the television and cheer and shout.

He loves his job and I’m thankful for that
Though my heart skips a beat with every crack of the bat.
So once again I’ll adjust to being without him,
Although every second I’ll be thinking about him.


Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for The Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He is also a supporter of, "A Glove of Their Own" the award winning children's story that teaches paying it forward through baseball. The Joe Niekro Foundation is the most recent non-profit organization to join the A Glove of Their Own team and will earn $3.00 from each sale of the book purchased using the donor code JNF636 Joe Niekro Foundation.

IOC Keeps Schiller's Team on the Bench; No Baseball in 2016 Games

Harvey Schiller, President of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) could perhaps see the writing on the wall this morning when he logged onto his Facebook page.

Perhaps more accurately, Schiller's friends and supporters of the game of baseball could see the writing on his wall.

At 9:00 this morning, Schiller wrote on his Facebook profile, "Don't be surprised if rugby and softball are voted in for 2016: men's rugby and women's softball. Answers both the gender and quality issue with decreased roster size. We'll know in about an hour."

As the clock struck 10:00 AM, Schiller's message seemed prophetic as the announcement was released by the IBAF after the announcement came from Berlin on
which two sports would be presented for vote in October in Copenhagen for re-instatement for the 2016 Olympics.

“The IBAF would like to congratulate golf and rugby on their selection today."

"Both will be welcome additions to the Olympic programme and should add great
excitement to which ever city is selected to host the Olympic Games in 2016. We
also want to wish nothing but the best to karate, roller sports, softball and squash, who were also not selected today.

"All of the seven sports under consideration have proven through the selection process that they are worthy of Olympic Games inclusion."

"Today is certainly a disappointing day for the billions of fans and participants around the globe who love the game of baseball, especially for the many young people from emerging countries who are now just learning the game and will not get the opportunity to realize the Olympic dream that so many before them have had.

"We effectively addressed all the International Olympic Committee’s questions with regard to re-instatement and are confident that we had made the best presentation possible."

"The game of baseball has grown stronger around the world, and overall baseball is seen and played by more boys and girls and men and women, both disabled and able-bodied, than ever before. Baseball will always emulate the Olympic ideals, and we predict that the IOC will be asking baseball back to the games for 2020, as we will continue to be the best partner for global sport possible."

"On behalf of all our federations, we want to thank President Rogge and the IOC for the opportunity to be re-instated to the Olympic programme, and we wish all the best going forward.”

The IBAF and Schiller put on an impressive attempt to get baseball reinstated for the XXXI Olympiad after it was voted out (along with softball) of the 2012 Olympics to be held in London.

Amongst the concerns of the IOC that the IBAF had to combat was the negative publicity of performance enhancing drugs in Major League baseball and the need for tightening of the drug policy.

In a previous statement Schiller had said "“We have millions of people who play the game, billions of people who watch the game. Why should young people around the world be denied the opportunity to play in the Olympics by these few?”

As part of his full court press the IBAF adopted the children's story "A Glove of Their Own" to help further their cause, presenting baseball as a children's game and is instrumental in the positive life approach of children around the globe.

Schiller and the IBAF sent a copy of the award winning children's story to each of the participating countries around the globe as an aid to get baseball reinstated.

“We feel that the principals of fair play, sharing and inclusiveness exhibited in the book are perfect examples of the values baseball teaches to people around the world. The organization will partner with the “A Glove of Their Own” team to get the book to as many members of the IOC as possible as an example of how baseball can unify all.”

“Since the book is geared to young people, perhaps those reading it and sharing it will some day be rewarded with an Olympic experience due to the lessons taught in the book.”

It seems rather fitting as we close the chapter on the quest of Schiller and the IBAF to see baseball in the games of 2016 to end with the final verse from Ernest Thayer's Casey at the Bat.

"Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out. TC

Todd Civin is a freelance writer for the Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He can be reached at for hire or comments or on Facebook, Linked-in and Twitter. He is a supporter of A Glove of Their Own, the award winning children’s story that teaches sharing through baseball. He encourages you to visit the site and to purchase the book using the code of Pitch in For Baseball PIF 129.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Red Sox Get What They Pay for Shopping From Clearance Rack

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox employed drastically different philosophies this offseason while shopping for the latest in fashions for their World Series wardrobe.

While Yankee GM Brian Cashman was being fitted for a double-breasted Armani from Bergdorf Goodman, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was hurriedly scouring Filene's Bargain Basement in hopes of sweeping up a Dickey that had fallen behind the clearance table the season before.

Cashman left Yankee Stadium with Hal Steinbrenner's platinum card last December, and returned home after spending more on high-priced free agents than Jennifer Anniston spends on lingerie.

Epstein, on the other hand, did his shopping at Consignment Emporium after fishing in John Henry's overstuffed La-Z-Boy for loose nickels and food stamps to fund his shopping spree.

Cashman's filet mignon palate landed him tasty morsels including CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira, and has Yankee fans salivating for another championship.

Epstein opted to fill the Red Sox shopping cart with slightly dented cans from the rear of the neighborhood Piggly Wiggly, and may just leave Red Sox fans in the Express Checkout this postseason.

While it is not a given that high-priced shopping equates to an automatic championship, Epstein's decision to fill 20 percent of the team's roster with recently injured retreads, has left the Sox with glaring holes as they enter the season's crunch time.

In a span of seven days last January, Epstein announced the signings of what were referred to as "low risk, high return" free agents as a clever way to counter Cashman's careless spending.

Rocco Baldelli was signed as the team's fourth outfielder despite being plagued with mitochondrial myopathy, a rare neuromuscular disease. The disease leaves him unable to play back-to-back games, and has robbed him of the skills he showed as a promising young player in his first several seasons with the Rays.

Baldelli, who is currently on the DL for the second time this season for unrelated injuries, is batting .261 in 111 AB this season, and has performed adequately for the Sox when called upon.

In addition, the Sox signed former Marlin and Dodger ace Brad Penny to a one-year, incentive-laden contract.

But the burly right-hander has been mediocre at best. The former NL All-Star has a 7-6 record and a 5.20 ERA. He has yet to make it out of the seventh inning this season.

With Boston starters Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka spending substantial time on the disabled list, Penny has essentially become the team's No. 3 option, a role that he simply can't fill.

The team continued their spree by signing former Dodger closer Takashi Saito.

Saito, who missed the end of last season with a sore right elbow, has been solid for the Sox out of the bullpen, but hardly the pitcher that saved 81 games in 91 attempts over three seasons with the Dodgers.

He is currently 2-3 with a 3.15 ERA as a setup man for the Sox.

Perhaps the biggest Sox gamble of the offseason had potentially the biggest upside, 42-year-old future Hall of Famer John Smoltz.

Smoltz was coming off of right shoulder surgery last June and was viewed as a midseason boost to the Red Sox rotation. With the injuries to Wakefield and Matsuzaka, Smoltz was quickly elevated to the role of savior rather than a reinforcement.

After struggling to a painful to watch 2-5 win-loss record and 8.33 ERA, Smoltz was designated for assignment.

With the Yankees lead now up to five-and-a-half games and the Rays nipping at Theo's flip-flops, Epstein's coupon-cutting has the Red Sox faithful lining up at the Wal-Mart return counter.

As the Cashman-led Yankees laugh all the way to the bank dressed in Yves St. Laurent, Epstein's Salvation Army Moo Moo continues to fray at the hem.

Perhaps it is time for Epstein and the Sox to skip the Blue Light Special at K-Mart and realize that you get what you pay for.

Todd Civin is a freelance writer for Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He can be reached at for comment or hire. He is also a supporter of A Glove of Their Own, the award-winning children's story that is capturing the heart of the nation by teaching sharing through baseball.

AGOTO has recently been adopted by Dick Drago, Luis Tiant, Phil Niekro, Ed Herrmann, and The Joe Niekro Foundation as part of their fundraising campaigns. Visit to offer your support.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lisa Cole Takes the Controls for Breakers in Game against Athletica

After spending the first two-thirds of the Boston Breakers season as head coach Tony DiCicco's co-pilot, assistant coach Lisa Cole had the opportunity to take the controls in last Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Saint Louis Athletica.

Cole was given the opportunity to captain the Breaker ship thanks to a one-game suspension of DiCicco after he tap danced on the refereeing of Jose Carlos Rivero in the Breakers' 1-0 loss to the Washington Freedom.

Rivero handed down a red card in the fifth minute of the match to Breaker defender Alex Scott, forcing the Breakers to play short-handed the rest of the game.

DiCicco has since apologized for his comments, but was still suspended one game, fined $1,000, and required to work six hours of community service.

So with DiCicco relegated to watching the game from the hotel, assistant coach Cole got to wear the head coach hat for a day.

I asked Cole how it felt to fly solo following the loss to Saint Louis. "To be honest it was like most games, with how it happened and the situation we are in as a team," explained Cole, who coached collegiately and at the semi-pro level before joining the Breakers. "I was just focused on us coming up with a game plan to get a win vs. Saint Louis."

Cole explained that her Breaker team prepared for the game in much the same way they always do due in part to her familiarity with how DiCicco coaches. The duo has coached together previously and Cole has coached at DicCicco's SoccerPlus camps for more than a decade.

"I think here is definitely (coached like) Tony in the way things were done for the game. We did our pregame talk at the hotel so he could go over the keys and then in the locker room I just reminded them of the keys.

"When we were ready for the match to start I just went over the keys for the game and I reminded them that this was a great opportunity for us to rise above some adversity."

In addition to serving as the Breakers assistant, Cole is the President and Assistant Coach of the SoccerPlus Connecticut Reds, a Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) team, which is also coached by DiCicco. The team played its inaugural season in 2007 and won the USASA U-23 National Title, a USASA Bronze in the Open Cup, as well as qualifying for the WPSL playoffs.

She is also the Director for the SoccerPlus Education Center, a non-profit organization that provides and participates in educational programs, seminars, community outreach events, and individual mentoring on and off the soccer field.

Prior to this, Cole coached at the collegiate level, where she was assistant coach at Florida State in 2005 under well known head coach Mark Krikorian.

Cole's only collegiate head coaching position was in 2003 and 2004 at the University of Rhode Island, where she compiled a 19-18-4 record and a 13-6-3 record in Atlantic 10 play.

Before taking over the Rhode Island program, Cole spent three seasons (’00-’03) as an assistant at one of the most successful college soccer programs in America while working at the University of Connecticut under head coach Len Tsantiris.

During her playing days, Cole was a star goalkeeper at Pacific Lutheran College under Dr. Colleen Hacker, Sports Psychologist for the U.S. Women's National Team. While playing for Hacker, Cole set school records for most saves in a career (276) and a season (140).

As a senior for the Lutes she received National Conference of Independent College (NCIC) honors and was named Pacific Lutheran's Most Inspirational Player.

"I only called Dr. Colleen Hacker (my college coach and team sports psychologist) before the game," explained Cole. "Just to get any suggestions or advice and because she would have been mad if I hadn’t called," laughed Cole.

When asked if she has aspirations of moving up to the head coach position permanently some day, she replied, "Yes, I would like to be a head coach again at some level, college or professional. I have and continue to learn a lot from Tony, but would like the opportunity someday to take the lead."

At least for now, Cole will settle back into her position as DiCicco's right hand "person" as the Breakers fly towards a possible playoff berth. But Cole will long remember her first chance to pilot the craft on her own. (TC)

Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for the Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He can be reached at with comments or story ideas. He is also a supporter of "A Glove of Their Own", the award winning children's book that is capturing the heart of the nation.

For more information, visit the site at and purchase under today's donor code NYP212-New York PD Baseball.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ed Herrmann Scores a Hole in One with Charity Celeb Tourney

When I last spoke to former Major League Baseball catcher Ed Herrmann for the story, "Catcher Ed Herrmann Scores Many Holes In One Following Baseball Career", he was busy, not only putting together pieces of peoples shattered lives, but putting together the pieces of a Charity Golf Tournament to raise funds for their ministry called, "Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life".

At that time, Herrmann had just begun gathering the names and commitments of his celebrity participants and I, for one, had concerns. Herrmann told me that at that point in the planning process he only had the commitments of former MLB pitcher Randy Jones and three-time Pro Bow defensive back, Willie Buchanon, but had hopes of including one or two celebrities with each foursome.

I envisioned Herrmann, Jones and Buchanon, each dressed in funny colored checkered pants and equally bright colored golf shirts, sprinting around the links, in an effort to divide their time and appease each of the disappointed quartets. It seemed late in the game to me and with only a handful of "runners" on base, it seemed to me that Herrmann may have struck out.

Well, that's why I write stories and Herrmann creates miracles, because upon revisiting his Web site yesterday, it became clear that the "Mighty Herm" had not struck out. Like he did many times in his 13-year MLB career, Herrmann had hit in the clutch and blocked the plate with the game on the line.

With two weeks remaining before the tee-off at hole No. 1, Herrmann has the commitments from stars of, not only baseball, but boxing, football, basketball and television, with a handful more in the on-deck circle. Confirmed celebrities to date include:

  • Evander Holyfield: Four-time Heavyweight Champion of the World
  • Billy Ray Smith, Sr: Nicknamed "The Rabbit," played for the NFL's Rams, Pittsburgh, Baltimore
  • Brian Sullivan: Punter and kicker specialist for Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Colts from 1981-1983. Ranked No. 1 in college in 1980. He holds the record in the East/West Shrine College All-Star Game with a 52 yard field goal.
  • Chris Cannizzaro: Major League Baseball catcher played for 13 years. He was an All-Star in 1969. He played with the original San Diego Padres and New York Mets. Also played with the Dodgers and St. Louis.
  • Craig McEwen: American football tight end in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers
  • Darren Carrington: Played safety for eight seasons in the NFL. He started in Super Bowl XXIX for the San Diego Chargers and was the Denver Broncos kick returner in Super Bowl XXIV. He finished Super Bowl XXIV with six kickoff returns for 146 yards, including a 39-yard return that set up the Broncos only touchdown of the game. His best season was in 1993 when he intercepted seven passes and returned them for 104 yards.
  • Dave Scott: KUSI Meteorologist who has been nominated for more than two-dozen Emmy’s, and has won several Associated Press and Emmy awards for his feature story work. He is the yearly host for the Jerry Lewis Telethon.
  • David Frost: Major League pitcher played for six years with the Chicago White Sox and California Angels.
  • Dokie Williams: His game was as exciting as his name. Williams was known for his explosive speed and his big game play-making ability. A member of the Super Bowl XVIII winning team, his presence on the field was a threat to secondaries around the league. Williams played for the Raiders from 1983-87, and helped establish some of the most prolific offenses in Raiders history.
  • Ed Herrmann: Major league Baseball catcher played for 11 years and was an All-Star in 1974. Teams he played for include: Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, California Angels.
  • Felix Giles: Felix "Nighthawk" Giles is the first Black American in history to race the world famous and extremely treacherous Baja 1000 Endurance Desert Race in Mexico. He was also the first to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
  • Gene Locklear: Major League Baseball Player played for five years for the San Diego Padres, Yankees, and Cincinnati Reds. World renowned artist of Sports and Native-American art. Highlights include: Exclusive Artist—San Diego Host Super Bowl and NFL Artist for the Pasadena Super Bowl.
  • Henry Tillman: Heavyweight Boxing Champion—won the Heavyweight gold medal for the United States at the 1984 Olympics.
  • Jim Anderson: Played Major League Baseball for six years. Played on the Anaheim Angels during the 1979 American League Champion Series, and also was on the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.
  • Jim Weatherley: NFL Player with the Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Falcons
  • Mike Merriweather: American football linebacker in the National Football League for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and Green Bay Packers
  • Pete Shaw: American football safety who played eight seasons for the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants. He played college football at Northwestern University and was drafted in the sixth round of the 1977 NFL Draft.
  • Randy Jones: Major League Baseball pitcher for 10 years. He was the 1976 Cy Young Award Winner and played for the Padres and the Mets.
  • Rashard Cook: Former NFL Player with the Eagles.
  • Sam Scarber: Played with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. Has had feature film work including; "Against all Odds," "All in the Family," "My name is Earl," "Family Matters," "The Shield," "Amen," "Desperate Housewives," "Jag," "Over the Top," "Karate Kid," "Cheers," "Barbershop," "Cold Case" and many, many others.
  • Stan Miller: Stan Miller is an Emmy award winning San Diego Newscaster having anchored the popular KUSI Morning News as well as the KFMB Evening News. He is also an ordained Baptist minister and regularly preaches at churches across San Diego County. Stan also founded and holds a yearly motorcycle ride to raise funds for Camp Hope, a summer camp for severely abused children and teens in Ramona.
  • Willie Buchanon: NFL Football Defensive Back played for 11 years. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro. He played for the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers.
  • Zack Jones: Former NBA player for the Nets and Cavaliers, CBA player, SDSU player, High School McDonald’s All-American and Liberty University Asst. Coach. Head Coach for 11 years for San Diego City College.

The tournament will be held on Aug. 20 at the prestigious Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club in North San Diego County. Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club is part of the Christian Music Award festivities being held at The Rock Church on August 22nd. The tournament is co-sponsored by United One Productions, who is putting on the award ceremony.

In addition to raising funds for BBNBTL, the tournament will benefit the Rock Golf Ministry to reach out to foster youth and inner city children in the San Diego area.

Green Fees for the event are $250 per player or $800 per foursome.

"Please contact me if you have any interest in entering the event as a single or getting your company to sponsor a foursome", explains Herrmann. "This will be an awesome golf tournament to play on a gorgeous course.

"It's a great way to meet and mingle with some celebrities for a good cause."

Registration is a 10:30 a.m. with an 11 a.m. Celebrity Clinic, with Tee Off scheduled for 1 p.m. Teams will consist of five-somes with one celebrity per team. A sit down dinner, raffle, silent auction and raffle prizes will top off a great day of golf.

Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for the Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He can be reached at with comments or story ideas. He is also a supporter of "A Glove of Their Own", the award winning children's book that is capturing the heart of the nation. For more information visit the site at and purchase under today's donor code NYP212-New York PD Baseball.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Glove of Their Own; Making A Difference One Glove at a Time

As a writer, I often feel a bit disingenuous taking credit for my stories. All too often a story that I didn't even know was inside of me seems to flow out of my very being.

Readers occasionally applaud me for what I've written and I am truly humbled. I rarely see the work as a product of my talent, but more as me being the mouthpiece of a far Greater Being.

Don't shoot the messenger, but don't praise him either.

I am the scribe and He is the author.

This story is no different.

Yesterday, I was brought to Jimmy Scott's High and Tight Web site. I can truly tell you that despite the fact that I have been writing sports for some time now and have visited hundreds of sites, I'd never visited Jimmy Scott's popular and well respected site.

I'm now a fan.

As expected, I was guided to the site with a purpose. An article that Jimmy Scott had written took me by the hand and grabbed my attention.

The article was about a children's book called, "A Glove of Their Own."

From his article, my journey continued to the site of the book. "A Glove of Their Own", which is a finalist for the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year" has been supported by companies such as Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, Upper Deck and Modell Sporting Goods, as well as players like Ken Griffey, Jason Grilli and manager Joe Torre.

I'm not even certain why it grabbed my attention. I'm not a very intellectual man so it very well could have been the fact that a kids' book arouses my interest.

It was of course, about my passion, baseball, so that too is a personal attention grabber.

The book is perhaps the best piece of children's literature I've ever read and is a MUST for every child, school, church or civic organization. Moreover, it is a great read for not just children, but for the child in all of us.

As one reader on the "A Glove of Their Own" website wrote,

To the Staff of "A Glove of Their Own":

I am a 61 year old male who recently purchased your book. I plan to give it as a gift to my son with the design that he will share it with our grandson to advance a message of what the game has to offer all of us: it's history, structure, purpose, culture, significance, and more importantly what can be learned from it.

I began reading the book in the store where I purchased it and began to get somewhat emotional as it "flashed" me back to my youth, and how I spent many a day playing with friends and rivals the game that has meant so much to me in my lifetime.

As a result, I have tried to communicate the game and it's merits to my son over the years, and this book has in a strong way rekindled the significance of what I did, and enjoyed as a youth, and what I am encouraging my son to "pass on" to another generation.

This book, the short read that it is, has to be one of the most moving pieces of literature about the game, creatively crafted so that anyone who knows anything about the game can understand just a little better that it truly is a "kids game", but also delivers a companion message that can be understood and practiced by everyone.

Congratulations on a great piece of work! Ken Bernabe

As enjoyable as the book is, however, I'm certain that it was the spirit of the book that ultimately "had me at hello."

"A Glove of Their Own" is a warm and heartfelt tale of a man who finds himself watching a children's baseball game. The players in the game love the sport, as he does, but have no equipment. He finds it in his heart to "pay it forward" and give of himself for the pure joy of giving. Not with hopes of receiving anything in return.

This is, of course, the true spirit of life. The spirit that each and every one of us is supposed to feel. The spirit of honest to goodness unreciprocated giving.

Well, in and of itself, that is enough to grab my attention. Then I read further.

"A Glove of Their Own" has become more than just a book, but is a movement that is sweeping the world by storm. The organizer of the movement, Bob Salomon explains his "Journey" as follows:

"I have joined three talented authors and one illustrator because this book is the beginning of a movement that, as a father and a coach, I believe in.

The idea for this story, born from a child’s birthday party and a desire to ensure all children have equipment and a chance to play, has gained enormous momentum and national support.

As grateful as I am for that notoriety, it is Debbie Moldovan, Keri Conkling and Lisa Funari-Willever who first believed in the vision of this dream. They are three amazing women, each one unique in their own talents. I am fortunate to have them as colleagues and blessed to call them friends.

Together, we have been humbled and overwhelmed by the support of individuals, Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, professional athletes and kids who simply dream of becoming athletes.

Giving back and extending friendship is written between the lines of this story; a story of kids who play with little, worn-out equipment, without coaches or concession stands, all for the love of the game.

Our goal is to raise awareness, raise funds, and motivate everyone to play the game forward. Whether you donate your old equipment, organize a community collection, or donate funds to these dedicated organizations, you will have made a difference to a child.

Thank you to our fans and supporters during this exciting time in our lives!"

“Play It Forward!”

Salomon and the organization known as "A Glove of Their Own" represent the good guys. The people who simply do the right thing because, well, it's the right thing.

As you can tell from my ringing endorsement of the cause, I drank the Kool-Aid. Shivers went up my spine as I visited the many links on the Web site and read the text of the story itself.

Salomon goes on to explain:

"Beyond the words of this book is a deeper meaning of the mission behind “A Glove of Their Own.” We are eager to teach the next generation the importance of giving back by becoming aware of those around us who would otherwise go without. This book is the vehicle that will drive us to deliver new and used sporting goods equipment or funds to children in need."

Proceeds from each sale of the book is donated to organizations that make sure children across the nation have a glove of their own.

In addition, $3 per sold book will be given to any school or non profit organization that joins "A Glove of Their Own" by selling the book.

This is referred to as a win, win, win, and represents the true spirit of "Playing it Forward."

I urge you as a baseball fan, a parent, a coach or a human being to visit "A Glove of Their Own" and to either purchase the book for your child or to turn on your organization to sell the book to others.

I'm going to end with my favorite story called "Make a Difference"

A man was walking along the beach as the powerful tide washed in. He spotted another man a ways down the beach. He bent down repeatedly and picked up starfish that had been beached as the tide washed in. One by one he'd pick up the starfish and toss them back into the surf, only have dozens of others wash ashore in it's place.

The first man approached the latter and said, "What are you doing? Can't you see that your efforts don't make a difference?"

The second man smiled and bent down and picked up another starfish. He tossed it into the current and said, "Made a difference to that one, didn't it?"

Make a difference. Play it Forward.

Todd Civin is a writer for the Bleacher Report. Feel free to send comments or story leads to Bob Salomon can be reached at to inquire about "A Glove of Their Own" or to have your organization added to the list of organizations who can benefit from sales of the book.