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Sports Then and Now

Sharing The Life Lessons of A Glove of Their Own

Posted on August 25, 2009 by Dean Hybl

A Glove of Their Own is a story of the joy of baseball and the joy of giving.

While players with multi-million dollar contracts playing in billion dollar stadiums have become the public face of baseball, at its core the game remains a cherished pastime for children playing on empty lots or little league fields across America.

An inspirational children’s book, A Glove of Their Own, is helping focus minds and memories away from the big-time nature of America’s Pastime and back where it belongs, on the game and the kids who grow up playing for the shear love of the game.

“It’s about the joy of baseball and the joy of giving,” said Bob Salomon, the man behind the movement to turn this award winning children’s book into a national crusade.

Written in an easily readable poetic rhyme, A Glove of Their Own harkens back to a time when games didn’t have to include parents, umpires or scoreboards and a group of four or more kids was all you needed to yell “Play Ball.”

Anyone who grew up playing baseball in open lots, trading gloves every half inning and being excited just to have a ball and bat for the game will appreciate this beautiful story about a group of kids who spend their afternoons playing by a big oak tree in the park.

Using an old worn out bat and playing with sticks for bases, the kids play for the shear love of the game and through that love touch the heart of their number one fan.

Written by Debbie Moldovan, Keri Conkling and Lisa Funari-Willever and illustrated by Lauren Lambiase, A Glove of Their Own is the perfect book for families who read together, enjoy sports and are looking for a book that entertains and inspires.

“It’s a simple message, but a valuable one,” said former major league pitcher Dick Drago, one of a growing number of athletes supporting the cause. “Doesn’t matter how old you are. In fact, the older you are the more meaningful I think the story is.”

The book concludes with a touching gift from the group’s number one fan and a pledge by the children to one day follow his lead by sharing what they have with others.

The artwork and story combine to make A Glove of Their Own an "instant classic" and book you will want to keep to share with future generations.

The artwork and story combine to make A Glove of Their Own an "instant classic" and book you will want to keep to share with future generations.

It is that message of giving back and paying forward that Salomon has dedicated himself to spreading across the nation.

A father of two and dedicated Little League Coach from New Jersey, Salomon has long seen his gift as being helping others and bringing joy to as many people as possible.

“I was never the coach who was good with baseball strategy,” Salomon said. “My gift is having fun with the kids and making sure that they all enjoy the game and realize it is about more than just winning.”

When Debbie Moldovan, a neighbor and fellow Little League parent, read her draft story to Salomon he knew that it was a story that needed to reach an audience.

“Getting the book published became my mission,” Salomon remembers. “I knew it was a million in one shot, but I believed this was a message that had to be told.”

Finally, after many calls and rejections, Salomon placed a call to Lisa Funari-Willever, founder of a children’s book publishing company called Franklin Mason Press that had a dual mission: to produce high-quality books and support children’s charities with donations from each book sold.

Though Funari-Willever says she typically gets a thousand unsolicited calls each year that almost never lead to a publication, there was something about the passion in Salomon’s voice that made her listen and consider the project.

Also a Little League mom, Funari-Willever eventually read the manuscript and, as they say, “the rest is history.”

The book was published in the fall of 2008 and in 2009 received the Benjamin Franklin Children’s Book Award.

But Salomon knew that getting it published was only the first step in his crusade to use the book as a catalyst to change mindsets and help as many people as possible.

Blessed with a big heart, the gift of gab and a determination to succeed, Salomon began making calls and contacts across the baseball landscape.

“I had a lot of unanswered calls,” Salomon recalls.

For each book sold $3.30 is donated to charities and to purchase athletic equipment.

For each book sold $3.30 is donated to charities and to purchase athletic equipment.

Eventually, people started to pay attention and doors started to open. Companies including Louisville Slugger, Upper Deck, Rawlings and Modell’s have signed on to donate products and help spread the message of giving and paying forward.

In addition, to date Salomon has been able to recruit 17 current and retired Major Leaguers to help spread the word and support the cause. Notable greats of the game including Tommy John, Phil Niekro, Joe Torre, Luis Tiant, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Sr., Dick Drago, Sean Casey and Brent Mayne have helped support the book through autograph shows and other efforts to increase awareness and book sales.

“I initially got involved very casually through Facebook,” Drago said. “The story got to me right away and I knew I wanted to be involved.”

Drago has since become a passionate champion for the cause. He has appeared with Salomon on radio shows and used his network as a former major leaguer to help connect with current and former players and their foundations.

“It’s a great message and it is really easy for any organization or foundation to become involved. We’re trying to raise awareness, funds and play it forward.”

In addition to involvement by professional athletes, the International Baseball Federation (IBF) is using the book as a tool in its petition to have baseball reinstated to the Olympics in 2016.

“Isn’t that amazing?” Salomon excitedly asked. “What started as a children’s book is now being used to help get baseball back in the Olympics. It just shows you the power this book can have.”

It is a power that Salomon wants to continue spreading across the nation and world. He is looking into having the book translated into other languages and hopes it will serve as a life-lesson for kids across the world.

He also is continuing to engage charities and organizations interested in spreading the message of the book. For every book sold, $3 is donated to a designated charity. In addition, $.30 per book is set aside for the purchase of sporting equipment for children in need.

Charities or schools interested in becoming part of the network of giving can join by contacting Coach Bob Salomon and agreeing to pay it forward. You can also learn more by visiting the A Glove of Their Own web site.

Click Here to purchase your own large hardcover copy of A Glove of Their Own.

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