TRIBUTE TO HAROLD BERMAN
Having just returned from a service for long-time Chiefs advocate and recent Community Baseball Board member Harold Berman I feel a need to pay tribute to what Harold meant to me as a young professional in the baseball industry.
As I sat at the funeral parlor debating whether to join in with Harold’s family and the close friends he has made in Syracuse sharing wonderful stories to celebrate his life I decided to leave the stage to the people he was closest to and knew the longest.
So I decided to pay tribute to Harold and tell my story in this blog.
After starting with the Chiefs in May of 1998 one of my very first responsibilities in the Community Relations Department was working with Harold to put together the teams annual visit to University Hospital. Little did I know that day would be a life changing experience for more people than the children in the hospital that the Chiefs players visited.
After two hours going from room to room visiting children with various illnesses led by Harold himself I learned more about what a Professional Baseball team mean to the community that I had learned in countless hours of class room lecturing in four years of the Ithaca College Sports Management Program.
What I learned from Harold was that meeting a professional baseball player and getting an autographed Chiefs hat for a moments time has greater healing power than any medicine a Dr. can prescribe.
I also learned from that day on that the only motor that runs faster than the one that propels Harold’s wheelchair is the one that runs the heart on the other side of his Chiefs jersey.
As many of his friends and family talked about today, instead of feeling sorry for himself that he has spent his entire adult life in hospitals, using canes or in a wheelchair, Harold used his disadvantage to create an advantage for countless individuals and groups in the Syracuse community.
In all the calls I’ve received from Harold over the last ten years asking for players to go here or there for a visit or an autographed ball for a Dr. he knows or a hat for a kid he met at the hospital, he never once asked for something for himself. That was the type of person he was, he didn’t feel sorry for himself, he just asked that you help others.
And help others is what he did all of his life. Never in a million years did I think when I moved to Syracuse out of college one of my biggest mentors and best friends I would have made would be a older gentleman in a wheelchair, but it is.
Harold loved the game of baseball and he loved the Chiefs. He told me stories of playing as a kids and how he was a left-handed pitcher and even had a tryout with the Phil lies as a teen. Although he never said it, everyone who knew him would agree that he would do anything to be able to play baseball again.
When Phil Rizzuto died George Steinbrenner was quoted as saying “I guess heaven must have needed a shortstop.”
Today as Rizzuto takes the field in heaven I guarantee you that he’s wondering who the left-handed pitcher with curly hair coming from everywhere out of his Chiefs hat in front of him on the mound is.