March 2012

“That’s as good as money. Those are IOU’s. Two hundred and fifty thou–might want to hold on to that one.”

I attended and graduated from Berkshire High School with, what I call,  the opposite of a running scholarship.  Instead of them paying me to run, I ended up having to pay them to showcase my talents in Cross Country and Track.  The joke’s on them, because I wasn’t that talented so they got ripped off! 

When I was in 9th grade, it cost me (technically my parents) $250 to play sports for the year.  By the time I was a senior, that price raised to $300 per sport!  That’s $600 that my parents had to pay for just me–let alone my brother (Football and Track) and my sister (Cross Country).  It even got to the point where they were charging $300 to be in marching band!  I loved my trombone, but shelling out that kind of kale isn’t worth all the girls’ phone numbers I could have got because I was a poetic, soul-searching musician (my mom always told me girls find that attractive, although looking back now I think she was being more nice than truthful to me).  Either way, paying money to run made every race and track meet I competed in feel like I was paying off an IOU to the school. 

I’m talking about that good old “Pay to Play” scenario which seems to be more and more popular in Ohio high schools.  Levies don’t pass, or budgets cause programs to shut down unless they charge the student athletes to pay to play for their sport.   For some school districts, the cost is much higher than others. 

Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) made the difficult decision earlier this year that they have to cut all Spring sports to try to save money.  Normally, baseball and softball would be part of this mix but thanks to Cleveland Indians Charities (the charitable arm of the Cleveland Indians), these two sports will still be in play. 

Every year since 1995, Cleveland Indians Charities has made a contribution to CMSD to help fund their baseball and softball programs.  Because of the annual contribution made by Cleveland Indians Charities, these two programs will not be included in the cut of Spring sports! 

It takes roughly $350 to support a team for the season and thanks to Cleveland Indians Charities’ generous financial donors, in-park silent auctions, Fantasy Camp, Celebrity Golf Outing and numerous other fundraisers, we are able to cover the cost of the school district’s teams and eliminate the dreaded ‘pay to play’ scenario.

Cleveland Indians Charities is dedicated to provide baseball opportunities to the youth of Cleveland and, to date, they have donated over 2.2 million dollars to CMSD to ensure all students have that opportunity.  To find out more about Cleveland Indians Charities and how you can make your dollars count, go to www.indians.com/community and click on the Cleveland Indians Charities box.

West Side Story

I grew up on the east side of Cleveland (what up 440!?) in a great town called Burton.  If you ever go there, don’t expect to see a stop light, because we don’t have one.  Don’t expect to see shopping plazas or public transportation vehicles either (expect maybe an Amish taxi or two).  If you want to got to see a movie, grocery shop or anything entertaining  you have to drive at least 20 minutes–we call it ‘going into town.’  Yes, we Burtonians are far away from the craziness that is the real world and that’s what I love about it.  If it wasn’t for Burton, I probably wouldn’t really argue over the age-old question of which is better: the east side or the west side? 

Currently, I live on the west side (get over yourself 216, my phone number still is 440).  I went to college on the west side and then kind of got stuck out this way.  I like the people and it is nice to only drive 2 minutes to Target or the mall or McDonald’s.  I also like that it is only a 13 minute drive to work here at Progressive Field.  It makes life a lot easier if you want to do anything.  Unfortunately, my heart belongs to the east side and hopefully within the next year or two, I will make my way back to settle down and raise some kin (and a little more cain) of my own there. 

What does the above story have to do with what the Indians did in the community?  Absolutely nothing.  I just needed a story to tell that mentions the west side.  Kind of a lame transition into my summary about how the Indians volunteered at the West Side Boys and Girls Club the other day.  You people will read anything!

On Monday, members of the Cleveland Indians front office went to hang out at the West Side Boys and Girls Club.  They helped the members with homework, played basketball, ping-pong and shot some pool with them.   Slider even made a visit to the club, which seemed to excite the kids more than having us there. 

  The club is open for the kids from 3:00pm to 7:00pm every day so they can come straight from school if they want.  In order to be a member, the parent has to fill out an application and, of course, there are rules that the kids have to follow when they are there.  Dinner is provided for the kids if they want it (which the Indians brought pizza and pop–sorry healthy food people). 

 It is truly an amazing thing to talk with some of these kids.  Some of their stories are pretty intense and it boggles my mind the things that they have to deal with on a daily basis.  The Boys and Girls Club keeps them on the right track and they all seem to enjoy being there.  You’ll see the older kids helping out the younger kids with homework, or teaching them how to play games.  They all seem to watch out for each other and that is one of the many reasons the Cleveland Indians are proud to support The Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland.  We plan on seeing all of these kids more throughout the season as we invite them down to games and events!

Can you sign my baseball?

A buddy of mine just celebrated his 30th birthday and one of the things he asked me for was an autographed baseball signed by his childhood hero, Albert Belle.  Wow!  How flattering that he put his hopes in me to grant him that birthday wish?  The power that I had from that request was just overwhelming.  To add to that, I just happened to be in Goodyear, Arizona the same day that Albert made his return to the Cleveland Indians (as an alumni, of course).  If I could get Albert Belle, who has not had any communication with the Indians since he left in 1996, to sign a baseball for my friend–what a hero I would be!  Just…wow!  I would probably go down as the best friend of all time!

Didn’t happen though.  Are you kidding me? I’m not doing that!

My job is to get autographed items to help grant charitable wishes, not the wish of a friend who has had 30 years to get the autograph himself.  Is it my fault he never asked Albert to sign anything when he was one of the only 500 fans at the old Cleveland Stadium and players were signing anything that moved?  I don’t need to be a hero, or your best friend.  Here’s a baseball signed by me, Justin Sherman.  Happy Birthday. (Please note: If you are interested in an autographed Albert Belle ball, we will have one to bid on at our Opening Day silent auction to benefit Cleveland Indians Charities on April 5.  Section 153).

Speaking of autographs, I was recently down at the Indians Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Arizona coordinating our big “Signing Day.”  During Signing Day, we have a little over 4,000 items (bats, balls, photos, jerseys, etc.) for the players to sign.  The items signed will go to many different things over the course of the year depending on which front office department requested items, but the majority will go towards our donations to local charities/benefits as well as silent auction items for our own charity, Cleveland Indians Charities.  Keeping with my amazing public speaking skills, I recorded a little something about Signing Day to give you a quick inside look at the process.  As always, thank you to Dan Mendlik for taping and editing it together.

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