White Sox scout helps bring baseball to new areas

Tumminia travels to Kenya, Honduras to deliver equipment, lessons, donations

January 22nd, 2016
John Tumminia teaches Kenyan children how to grip a baseball bat. (John Tumminia)

CHICAGO -- John Tumminia has been to Kenya and Honduras since the start of Major League Baseball's offseason.

But these aren't exactly vacations for the longtime White Sox pro scout. These excursions are more labors of love, part of his non-profit organization Baseball Miracles' program to bring baseball to areas with economic and environmental disadvantages throughout the world.

"Our website had 18,000 hits [on a day earlier this week]," said Tumminia, who left Wednesday with his group for a five-day trip in Honduras. "I'm amazed. We get people that give us options."

Tumminia's group brings all new gloves, bats, baseballs, catching equipment and everything that these kids would need for baseball, and then teaches them about the game. They also give them a monetary donation, with Tumminia adding that White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf "gives us money every year, every trip."

"We've had big donations from [Pittsburgh manager] Clint Hurdle, so many people," Tumminia said.

Another trip is planned for the Appalachia area in Eastern Kentucky. When Tumminia's group went to Kenya, they had seven people on staff and close to 500 kids the first day. They had 350 kids in attendance for the second and 270 kids that third day.

"The good thing about it is they showed up with teachers and support staff," Tumminia said. "We had a large field area that was very crude, very rough.

"We were only supposed to do one clinic, one day. But the way it turned out, the momentum was just going in the right direction. Kids were learning how to play baseball for the first time, the teachers were young, they wanted to play baseball, the administrators wanted to play baseball. It was just a big happening. It was really a big happening."

Eldoret was the area of Kenya where they traveled, which is the home of two-time Olympic gold medal runner Kip Keino. Tumminia met Keino after the clinic, with Keino telling him what a great thing it was that Baseball Miracles brought baseball to Kenya.