Major League Baseball gives back to troops

Thomas Warner
LRMC Public Affairs

The Cleveland Indians and Major League Baseball hit a home run when they combined recently to deliver nearly 500 pounds of clothing merchandise to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

The items are currently available through the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center, a no-charge clothing outlet operated by LRMC chaplains, and by direct distribution to patients on the various wards of the hospital.

“We were made aware of LRMC by Kurt Schloss of the Indians; we help a variety of organizations throughout the year with donations in all forms,” said Greg Sim, Director of Apparel and Headwear for Major League Baseball. “Major League Baseball and its players have given back to our troops overseas through many different means.”

After getting news he’d be deploying to Germany, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Michael McNamara called LRMC Radiology Department director Rick Ashley to share news of the pending delivery. He later met with Mr. Schloss, an Indians merchandising manager, and became the eventual point of contact for 14 large boxes containing hats, shirts, workout clothes and other apparel for both men and women.

“I was thinking of the humanitarian standpoint for morale, welfare and recreation,” said Colonel McNamara, a professor on a variety of medical topics who works stateside at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. “The hospital patients I’m sure are very grateful for the donation. You could see the joy on the face of a Boston fan and in his mannerisms when we took him a Red Sox shirt. It was incredible to see his reaction. You can bring a little joy to people here recuperating from war wounds.”

The Cleveland baseball organization was prepared to make a singular donation but after Mr. Schloss and the merchandising people looked closer at things, the team decided to go a step further with it.

“The military has always been a big part of our team’s fan base – starting with our greatest ballplayer and military veteran Bob Feller,” Mr. Schloss said. “I thought that since (Landstuhl) was being used to transition military personnel from all over the United States, Major League Baseball would be able to supply more than just Indians merchandise.

“Offering military ticket discounts, ceremonial color guard presentations at our games and recognition of our local (servicemembers) lost in combat represents a great sense of pride for our organization.

Bill Kahan, a merchandising executive with Major League Baseball also had a big part in the putting the shipment together. Servicemembers who’ve found Red Sox or Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees or Atlanta Braves apparel here can more easily look to next year since their teams didn’t make the 2006 World Series.

“You have to stand behind your team no matter what the circumstances,” said Staff Sgt. Reyes Fernandez-Brizula, wearing a New York Yankees hat on Ward 10-C while recuperating after being injured downrange. “I love this hat.”