Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mayor, The Ol' Left-Hander, And Some Special Kids

I met The Mayor!

Sheila here. Sean Casey may not be with the Reds anymore, but he's still doing great things for our community, and it's all because of the 'Ol Left-Hander, Joe Nuxhall.

I love baseball. Always have. I'm not a fan who can quote a bunch of stats. Heck, I don't even know what some of the stats mean! But I love the game, and there's no bigger fan of the Cincinnati Reds. Last week, I was in baseball heaven at the Green Diamond Gallery in Montgomery for a fundraiser for the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League fields. You could call it a win, win, win. I got to meet Sean Casey, one of my favorite former Reds, I got to see some unbelievable baseball treasures while surrounded by my husband Ric and friends, and I got to see why the project in memory of the Ol' Lefthander is so special.

I don't know if you've heard about the Green Diamond Gallery. A local baseball collector named Bob Crotty has amassed so much baseball memorabilia that he decided to open the gallery as a way to showcase and share it. It's not a museum. You can't just show up and pay for a ticket to see it. Bob allows local charities to use the facility to host their fundraising events.

The Green Diamond has more than 5,000 square feet of high-end baseball memorabilia dating from the late 1800's to the present. Want to see Cy Young's autograph? It's there. In fact, you can gaze at hundreds of autographed and mounted baseballs from greats like Mantle, Ruth, Morgan and Bench. The collection includes things like a Roberto Clemente contract for a $6,000 salary. And there's a great photo and autograph of a young Joe Nuxhall, who at 15 was the youngest player ever drafted into the majors.

It was a fitting place to hold a fundraiser for Joe's Miracle League fields, planned for Fairfield. Joe's son Kim was watching Real Sports on HBO several years ago when he saw the very first story about the very first Miracle League in Georgia. That story inspired people all over the U.S.A., including Joe and Kim to work to build their own Miracle League fields for children with special needs to play baseball.

Kim showed us the video, and the tears flowed, just like they did the first time he and his dad learned about the Miracle League. It was one of Joe's dreams to build a field for special needs children in Butler County. Joe loved kids, which is why there's a fantastic Tom Tsuchiya statue of the Ol' Lefthander surrounded by children in Fairfield's Waterworks Park. Kim says one of Joe's dreams was to give disabled children a place to experience baseball, something so basic to most of our childhoods. With one in 10 children in the U.S. living with some sort of disability, I can't think of a better way to let kids be kids, and as Kim says, give their parents the joy of seeing their children just play and have fun.

Speaking of feeling like a kid, I told Kim I felt like a big goober when I met The Mayor, Sean Casey at Friday's event. I've been a fan since he first started at first base with the Reds, and like most Reds fans, I was sad when he left. Even though he no longer lives in Cincinnati, he continues to support efforts started by his good friend Joe Nuxhall. Aside from the Miracle League fields, Sean still supports Nuxhall's character education efforts, now carried on by Kim.

This day was one for the record books for this baseball fan. And I can't wait for the day when we see some kids playing on that Miracle League diamond. You can follow the progress and find out how to help at

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