Cleveland Indian's pitcher Jason Grilli has a career record of 18-18 with a 4.74 ERA. Good enough by all standards to make him one of the top middle relievers in the game, but the Hall of Fame is not yet calling. According to the record book that really counts, however, Grilli is a winner of the Cy Young Award, MVP and slated for induction into Life's Hall of Fame.
After chatting with Grilli, it is clear that he is one of the good guys. Soft spoken, humble, and committed to helping those less fortunate than himself are attributes that don't show up on the scoreboard. He is a man who thinks about family, friends and those less fortunate than himself long before he is concerned about his wins, losses or earned run average.
For those who are keeping score at home, Grilli is throwing a perfect game.
Grilli became involved several years ago with the Rockie Mountain Deaf School (Charter School) shortly after he was traded to the Rockies. Even though he has since been traded to the Texas Rangers and now signed with the Indians, he has become a regular fixture at the school to this day.
"I really wanted to do something for the community because that's the type of person I try to be," explained Grilli speaking from his Florida home. "My sister was a sign language interpreter, so when I got the letter from the school, I figured things happen for a reason."
The letter Grilli refers to was part of a fund raising campaign sent to him by Kay Bohan, who's son Troy is a student at the school. When the school was forced to move for the fifth time in 11 years Bohan started the "Sign's of Summer" event to raise money for a permanent building.
"I sent out letters along with sports memorabilia to over 1000 athletes across the country. My hope was to get them to autograph the items so we could auction it off at our first event. I got back about 600 items, which was great," explained Bohan.
"But I only got one phone call from an athlete asking how else he could help. And that was from Jason."
Bohan explained that when Grilli got the letter he was so touched that he called his dad, Steve, who was also a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays from 1975-79. Then he called his wife and his sister and read them the letter as well.
"I knew I had to help," explained Grilli. "I called Kay and told her that signing autographs is the easy part. What else can I do to help?"
The two started talking about communication and how challenging it is for the deaf to communicate. At that point "a light went off" and Grilli told Kay about the Globallinx Video Phone, which he brings on the road so he can see his family when he calls them.
"I bring it so I can see my family and they can see me during times away from home", explained Grilli. "So I sent Kay and Troy a video phone to see if it helped him communicate."
Grilli has since donated several to the school to help the other 55 deaf students who attend. The 5 Linx company that manufactures the phones also gave away two video phones at the Signs of Summer fundraising event, as well as, paid for a one-year phone bill subscription for each one. Grilli became a company rep for 5 Linx and continues to market the phone through his Perfect Pitch Marketing company and his Wildpitchmarketing blog.
"Meeting Troy for the first time, made me melt," explained Grilli. "These kids have such special needs. I have a son of my own and I would hope that someone helped him if he had the need. I just love them."
Grilli went on to explain, "I hope you understand. I don't do this so Jason Grilli get's a gold star next to his name. I do it because it's the right thing to do."
Bohan, who described herself as "just a mom" is not employed by the school, but simply a very involved fundraiser.
"The school really lacks funding as the state cut our budget by over $134,000.", explains Bohan. "The school is funded strictly by state funding and private donations and this fundraiser really helps out."
Grilli is also involved with the award winning book "A Glove of Their Own", the children's baseball book which has captured the hearts of the nation.
"Both Jason and I are good friends with Bob Salomon (a team member that created "A Glove of Their Own" and the book's promoter). Through sales of the book purchased from the A Glove of Their Own website using the Rocky Mountain Deaf School donor code, Salomon and Grilli donate $3.00 from each sale to the school.
Before hanging up the phone with Bohan and Grilli, I asked her if his involvement has lessened since he moved away from the Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Deaf School.
She laughed, "He's as committed to the cause as I am. He's on a mission and he and Troy are friends for life."
Rocky Mountain Deaf School is founded on the belief that deaf children can and should succeed. The driving force behind the school is a theme of excellence in research-based academic programs In this intellectually stimulating environment, communication is totally accessible throughout the day from every person in the child’s environment. Each student’s potential is maximized as teachers continue to instill in each child the joy of living and learning.
To learn more about GlobaLinx, Perfect Pitchmarketing and the new New GlobaLinx CU-3000 WIRELESS phone, visit Jason Grilli's website at Jasongrilli.com/info.