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B.A.T. Consultant Sam McDowell retires - Miracle of Park Ave.

"Major League Baseball has done something that no other sports industry can or has done, that is the total care and concern for its Baseball Family members.

"I formally retired this January as a consultant for the Baseball Assistance Team. I am amazed and humbled by the miracles that B.A.T. performs on a daily basis. I've seen cases where a newborn needs a heart transplant, terminal illnesses with seemingly no help, individuals living in the street, alcoholics/drug addicts and individuals with mental and physical illnesses/diseases. Thousands of family members were saved or at the very least are now able to live normal lives due to B.A.T. We've been able to help individuals from birth to as old as 95 years old.

"When Commissioner Peter Ubberoth and the 22 former players started this program it was to help the few elderly former players experiencing serious financial problems such as losing their home and living in the streets. The original thought process was for this program to last a few years and be shut down shortly after.

"My life was changed for the better with the very first call for help I received from Joe Garagiola of B.A.T. After my own recovery from alcoholism/drug addiction, I was determined to find out why, what, where, and how I became an alcoholic. I returned to taking course work, attending over 40 workshops that lasted anywhere from two days to two weeks in duration. Back in 1980, a new career was emerging, that of an Employee Assistance Professional. Once the training was completed, I realized there was far more education needed and I was paranoid, never wanting to hurt another person because of my ignorance. Therefore, my education continued forward.

"While I was working as the EAP for Texas and Toronto, I received a call from Garagiola asking if I would be willing to help B.A.T. A call came in that a former player was in the middle of attempting suicide. I called the player, stabilized him and got help for the individual. Today he is an ordained minister working with children at risk. The following year Joe and the Board of Directors of B.A.T. would not take no for an answer. I have been a consultant for B.A.T. since 1987.

"I truly believe God designed this program, pushed me into the proper training and helped me seek help from the proper centers and individuals throughout my life. My mentors include a psychiatrist from Pittsburgh, a psychologist who worked in my office for years and my son who is a Clinical Director at a recovery center. All things in the field are constantly changing but I continually went to mentors and/or resources to get the help I needed that I personally didn't have with my own education.

"I wish I could say that many of our program ideas are mine but there is nothing implemented within B.A.T. that I didn't copy from the proven most successful therapy program elements available today. In the almost 30 years of working with B.A.T., we've worked with hundreds of alcoholics/drug addicts. To have only five permanent relapses is considered a miracle! In fact, just one recovery is considered a miracle to all those who know and understand addiction.

"Earlier I mentioned that I believe it was God who drove me to B.A.T., that it was him who drove me to the different educational forums for many of the different problems and situations I would run into. I also believe it is God who picked our Board of Directors and Grant Committee members as I found them to be the most compassionate, caring and knowledgeable group of individuals ever assembled. They are just awesome!

"The program is 100% confidential and yet individuals from the NFL and NHL have come to us for advice and learn how we go about helping people. If there is an alcohol, drug, emotional, psychological, financial, physical and abuse problem, B.A.T. can and will help."