White Sox scout creates 'Miracles' for kids

Tumminia's non-profit organization introduces baseball to children across globe

White Sox scout creates 'Miracles' for kids

CHICAGO -- Following the 2018 season, when John Tumminia will be 66 years of age, the longtime White Sox scout plans to retire.

A logical jump would be for Tumminia to move full time into Baseball Miracles, the labor of love and non-profit charitable endeavor he began about five years ago. But here's the only problem with that logic: Tumminia already delivers a full-time commitment to Baseball Miracles while working for the White Sox.

"It's an everyday, 24/7 thing, really," Tumminia said. "We have a pretty dynamic, growing and progressive foundation right now."

"The expression on the kids' faces is like a light bulb," White Sox scout John Tumminia said. (BaseballMiracles.org)

To pull from the holiday theme at this time of year, Tumminia is a thin version of Santa, and his gift to many is baseball. Through Baseball Miracles, 10 clinics have taken place around the world.

Tumminia proudly lists off some of the locales: Honduras, Kenya and two in South Africa, to name a few. A clinic in New Orleans has been scheduled for August 2017 after the non-waiver Trade Deadline -- Tumminia figures to be busy with his scouting duties until then.

Argentina is on the docket for the first or second week of next November, with Ethiopia and the South Bronx penciled in for 2018. These clinics usually encompass three days, with the focus getting kids of all ages, often those from areas with economic and/or environmental disadvantages, interested in the basics of the game at no cost to them.

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has helped Tumminia with contributions ranging from financial assistance to gloves, tees, bats and balls. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, with whom Tumminia became good friends through baseball, recently joined the organization's advisory board.

"It's satisfaction guaranteed on both sides of the fence," Tumminia said. "We have two teams [of workers] now, so one team will go to New Orleans and another team will go to Argentina. We have about 18 or 19 on our staff, and all are volunteers."

The clinics bring out, on average, 225 boys and girls, according to Tumminia, and the group in Kenya included 400. Thirty years of Tumminia's life have been spent as a professional scout, but he spent just as much time working for the Department of Corrections in New York.

Tumminia retired from that position eight years ago, but his work in three maximum-security prisons pushed Tumminia toward developing Baseball Miracles as much as his love for baseball did.

"I saw a lot of these men locked up for 25, 50, 100 years in a maximum-security jail," Tumminia said. "I saw guys who were talented and had ability and could have gone somewhere.

"So I said to myself that there were a lot of kids who could get a taste of baseball. They could get an opportunity to learn the game around the world and maybe do something with the game, do something with themselves, unlike a lot of these inmates who resorted to drugs, robbery and murder and got locked up in a penitentiary for the rest of their lives.

"My thought was, 'I have to go out now and do something, make a contribution in our society,'" Tumminia said. "I felt very energetic about it, and my wife was my biggest supporter. She kept pushing me in the direction to do it at times when I was going to back off. I don't have the words to explain. … The expression on the kids' faces is like a light bulb."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.