By JULIE REPPERT
In a time when scandals in the sports world seem to overshadow the good things, a New Jersey dad and Little League coach has found a way to bring major league athletes back into the light where they belong - as positive role models.
Bob Salomon, a state worker and father of two, has spearheaded a movement of "paying it forward" through a children's book that he co-created called, "A Glove of Their Own."
"It's about giving back and kindness," Salomon said. "Bringing good together - a message we want to teach our kids - to be kind to one another. The message is so beyond books, it's a platform to bring kindness back to the world and make a difference. Pay it forward and giving back."
The book, authored by three New Jersey moms, Debbie Moldovan, Keri Conkling and Lisa Funari-Willever, has a simple, yet powerful message that has gained the support of many professional athletes - kindness.
A few of the sport's greats who are standing behind the book's message and movement include Don Mattingly, Yogi Berra, Doug Glanville, Tommy John, Joe Torre and Mike Sweeney, to name a few.
During the 2012 Little League World Series, former major league baseball legend Jim Eisenreich came to the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum in South Williamsport to greet fans and sign copies of the book. Proceeds from the sale of the book benefitted the Jim Eisenreich Foundation for children with Tourette syndrome.
Eisenreich had a 15-year major league career with the Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Salomon and Eisenreich also spent some time with members of the Little League team from Lugazi, Uganda, at the museum during the series.
"They (athletes) get behind me, not only as the ball player, but as a friend," Salomon said. "They realize this is real and it's grassroots and we help each other, and give back to the game and help kids."
Salomon said seeing a smile on a child's face and talking with parents - hearing their stories and how they love and appreciate what he is doing, keeps him motivated to continue to spread the book's message.
He said the storyline will bring adults back to their childhood, to the days when they played sandlot baseball and maybe had only one bat that had to be shared among teammates.
"A Glove of Their Own," published in 2008, is a story about children playing baseball simply for the love of the game. There are no coaches as the kids share their equipment and play for fun.
Salomon said the success of "Glove" has been so great, it inspired him to write his own book - "Beyond the Laces."
It's a football-based book about a little boy who loves the sport and who faces great odds to overcome adversity. And a story of never giving up - a message Salomon cares about deeply. It will showcase the true gift of the athlete and the impact they have on children, he said.
Following the release of "Beyond the Laces," Salomon hopes to promote the book by touring every children's hospital in the country with professional athletes at his side. He would like the book to be released before the holidays, he added.
Salomon said the success of "Glove" is making it easier for him to get the support of athletes for his new book right from the start.
"My goal with the football book is to unite all sports - baseball, football, tennis, hockey - I use football as the vehicle this time. Our goal with that is just to bring smiles to kids' faces. That is my only goal. I just want to bring kindness back, similar to 'Glove.' Just show that people do care," he said. "I'm just a dad - humble, faithful and trying to make a difference."
There are 25 charitable organizations in which you can choose to support when buying a copy of "A Glove of Their Own."
One of which is the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, which can be chosen from the dropdown box at the time of placing the order on the website.
Three dollars will be donated to the museum when using the code "LLM444."