(CBS Local)– John Hirschbeck was a Major League Baseball umpire for several decades and now is doing some great charity work in Northeast Ohio.
Hirschbeck is selling memorabilia that he collected from his time in baseball to raise money for The Magic Of Michael Foundation, which he started with his family to honor the lives of his two sons who died prematurely due to rare neurological diseases. The former MLB umpire is auctioning off everything from baseballs signed by former presidents like Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, seats from Fenway Park to an autographed baseball signed by Roy Halladay after his playoff no-hitter. Hirschbeck hopes these items raise money for an important cause.
“People say how do you deal with the death of a child and in our case we had two sons that died,” said Hirschbeck, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I say you come to a crossroads after that mourning period. You say my wife needs me and my other kids need me. I’m going to go on and do the best I can. No day is ever going to be the same and that is life. We are doing a lot in Northeast Ohio with the Magic of Michael Foundation. People can see the pictures of the families and what we’ve been doing since 2015. Michael died in 2014. We work closely with Akron Children’s Hospital. We’ve given them over a quarter of a million dollars since this started. It’s been great. Michael’s friends after he passed away in 2014 came to us and said we want to do something to honor Michael’s memory.”
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The mission statement of Hirschbeck’s foundation is to help families face the curveballs of life. The Magic of Michael Foundation specifically focuses on helping children with disabilities and inner-city children.
“We have done everything from build ramps to fixing bathrooms, so they can get in and out better,” said Hirschbeck. “We’ve gotten electric wheelchairs and done all types of things to help families. We have a special Christmas program where we buy for families. We’ve never turned anyone away yet.”
While Hirschbeck met a lot of great players during his MLB career, one of the kindest to his son Michael was former MLB pitcher and Pennsylvania native Jamie Moyer.
“A very great story that tells a lot about players was when Michael was with me in Minnesota and my wife Denise wasn’t with me. We scheduled a check up on Friday, did his checkup and he was all excited that he was going to the games. I had the plate Sunday and Sunday morning he was having a seizure. Thank God it was early enough that I was able to put him in bed and get him settled down. He was finally good enough to go downstairs and go to the ball park. When I got him in our room, I made him a bed with towels and he was out of it. I went down to work the plate and somehow Jamie Moyer was walking by and knew what was going on. He said don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on Michael during the game. He did and stayed up there almost the whole game. He sent word to Ken Griffey Jr. that Michael was okay and we went about the game.”