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Three Generations with a Passion for Baseball

By Bob, July 12, 2010 4:38 pm

Bob Hellman Jr., Robert Hellman III, and Bob Hellman Sr. (L to R) at a 2004 World Series game between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.

Baseball has always been a part of my life – for as long as I can remember. It was the first sport I ever had a chance to play. It is also a sport I’ve enjoyed both playing and watching with my entire family, including my grandfather, after whom I am named.

We have even had a chance to visit the Baseball Hall Of Fame together. My love of baseball really got going when my first baseball team (which my Dad coached) won a championship.

However, as I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country, I’ve noticed that so many communities no longer have good baseball parks so that young kids can learn the game – America’s game. I’ve been very lucky in my life to have access to a lot of resources, but many have not.

A few years ago my grandfather started a non-profit, Build Our Ballpark, with the mission of improving the lives of underprivileged kids in largely low-income neighborhoods by providing the opportunity to play baseball and softball.

Build Our Ballpark, or B.O.B., has over a dozen new fields under restoration or development. And yet every time they have to raise funds one field at a time to make these ballparks a reality. It is a project my entire family – cousins, aunts and uncles enjoy helping to support.

As part of my school requirement at Sacred Heart, I am required to undertake at least 25 hours of community service during my upcoming sophomore year. This summer I came up with the idea that I could both help support the building of new ballparks and underprivileged communities, and at the same time see the state where my Dad’s side of the family was born and raised, by riding the RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). What I hope to do is get people to support me in this effort through pledges that would raise money to help build more ballparks. All of the money we raise will go to Build Our Ballpark.

I’ve recruited two of my cousins, my uncle, and my Dad to ride along with me. We’ll be riding from July 23rd to July 30th – seven days across 422 miles. I’ll be sending in updates for my blog both before the ride and during, as well as videos and photos so people can track our progress.

I hope people will choose to support our ride – and keep up with our progress.

-Robert Hellman III

Please visit the donations page of Build Our Ballpark to donate to Team B.O.B. by clicking here.

Another Boyhood Hero Has Died

By Bob, May 7, 2010 9:28 am

The good Sisters of St. Francis were baseball fans. And every fall our classrooms at St. Mary’s were filled with the sounds of the World Series being broadcast on a radio that was strategically positioned to allow the good Sister and her classroom to catch every sound of the game that plays so well on the radio … while still attempting to teach a class.

I remember the World Series of 1950 and the beating that the Philadelphia Phillies and their ace, Robin Roberts, took at the hands of the New York Yankees. I can hear the rhythm of the game, but unfortunately, remember very little about the class being taught.

I’ll not attempt to list all the stats of Robin Roberts, one of my boyhood heroes. Sports Illustrated (SI.com) has a beautifully written tribute article by Joe Posnanski detailing Roberts’ accomplishments on the pitching mound. I urge my baseball friends to read this article. He was a throwback from the deadball era – a pitcher that finished what he started, and a hero to Philadelphia Philly fans.

Roberts was the ace of the 1950 Philadelphia Philly team known as the “Whiz Kids.” He began a string of six straight years where he started 37-plus games and finished 20 or more each year – an incredible pitching feat in any era.

DiMaggio, Williams, Spahn, Mantle, Reese, Robinson, Hodges, Furillo, Reiser, Campanella … and Roberts – all boyhood heroes whose accomplishments still live in my mind on the radio.

 

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