This first entry is taken in part from the dedication of my book, “The Beauty of a Diamond, Through the Eyes of a Coach.”

I had originally started writing this book in 2003; published it 2012, and then re-published it with an additional eight chapters in 2020.  Obviously it has been somewhat of a work in progress.  When I first started kicking around the idea of writing it, my mother was one of the first to step up and encourage me to go ahead with it.  Since that time, my mother has passed away, so I feel that it is only fitting that now that I have finally finished this project, that I dedicate it to her.

Below is an article that I wrote that I had published in the Berkshire Baseball and Softball Club’s program booklet in 2005, I hope that by having you read this, you may understand what has driven one individual to succeed beyond anyone’s wildest dreams…

Since 1989 I have dedicated the bulk of my free time to the Berkshire Baseball & Softball Club and the BIG Vision Foundation, my wife can vouch for that.  On days when I get a little overwhelmed and frustrated and I ask myself what drives me, the answer is simply, my mother and the kids who are in the program.  Ever since I can remember, my mother was volunteering her time in one form or another.  Whether at the little league concession stand when I was a kid or at the Salvation Army tent at Ground Zero, she always saw fit to lend a helping hand, for literally, nothing in return.  In many cases, when I was younger, she would drag me along with her.  Apparently, those days must have made a lasting impression on me because quite honestly, I really can’t think of anything that I would have rather done over the past 30 years than put in the time that I have with this organization.  Seeing young men and women grow into adulthood and hoping that somewhere along the line, I helped them to achieve their goals.

Enough about me though, this article is dedicated to the person who taught me that there is no greater gift than to give of yourself.  She lived her life by that motto and I hope that my life can have half of the impact on others that hers did.

My Mom, Loretta Magary

January 21, 2005, the most painful day I have ever experienced in my life.  Getting the phone call from Florida that my mother was rushed into emergency open heart surgery was tough; getting the phone call five hours later telling me that she didn’t make it through the surgery was a pain that I can’t even put into words.  My mother had such an incredible influence on my life that I feel I have to share it with others.

My Mother, where do you begin?

By far the most extraordinary woman that I have ever met.  Although my heart aches and longs to see her smile just one more time, I am also so very proud of the things my Mom had accomplished in her short life.  Things that most people only ever dream of doing.

She was a gypsy, a volunteer, a great teacher and a mentor all in one.

The Gypsy in her, Traveled around the country at her own pace and on her own terms.  I can still remember when she first told me that she was going to be quitting her job to go see the United States in an old beat up car; she later graduated to an old beat up camper. My first reaction was that she had lost it.  When she reasoned with me that many people travel all around the world to see different places and die without ever realizing what a beautiful country we live in right here and that she didn’t want to be one of those people, how could I possibly argue with her?  Not that I would have changed her mind anyway, she was pretty determined once she made her mind up.

As I would get letters from her telling me about her adventures, my admiration grew greater and greater for her.  She saw every state in the union with the exception of Hawaii.  She would stop to see family and friends along the way.  When she ran low on cash, she would settle down with a friend or relative and work pumping gas or doing some other odd job until she had enough money saved up to continue.

I guess in a way, the gypsy in her has worn off on me as well, however, I have chosen to see our great country with 50-plus teenage baseball players in tow, she saw it by herself in a 1967 Plymouth Valiant and later in a 1978 Toyota Camper.

The volunteer in her made her the most giving person I have ever met.  I can remember growing up in Florida.  After her and my father had separated and it was just her and I; she worked two, three and sometimes four jobs to make ends meet.  I know now that things were pretty tough for us back then, but I never knew it then.  She made sure we always had food on the table and a roof over our head.  She took a back seat to make sure I was taken care of.  She would take me shopping for school clothes at the mall and we’d stop at Goodwill for herself on the way home.

Even with working all those jobs, she seldom ever missed a little league game and always made sure I was at practice.

She continued giving of herself long after I was gone, whether it was at ground zero after 9/11, in Florida with the Hurricane Relief efforts, helping a friend stay sober, volunteering with the Florida Attorney General’s Rape crisis network or just helping a friend put shingles on his roof, she always had time to lend a hand.  She would seldom ask for help but was always ready to give it.  Always looking out for everyone else that even in her last days, she didn’t want her parents or brothers and sisters to know she was in the hospital because she didn’t want them to worry about her.  Even in her death, she was still looking out for someone else, as an organ donor, she gave among other things, the tissue of her corneas, in which my Aunt Sally said it best when she said she wishes that whoever gets them can see the beauty that my Mom saw with them.

The career that she chose was as giving as her volunteer duties.  She was an addictions counselor and ran a halfway house for several years.  She was very active in Alcoholics Anonymous and Ala-non.

The teacher in her; taught me so many things, that I can only highlight a few…

She taught me that people are still people whether they are famous or not.  She stressed that after all the fame and fortune goes away, the type of person you are is still how you will be remembered.

She held hands with Jim McMahon of the Chicago Bears in “Hands across America” and was not very impressed by him. She had lunch with Dickie Noles of the 1980 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies every year at an annual convention in Clearwater, Florida and referred to him as “a nice southern kid who did mention something about playing baseball a few times”.  She was very impressed with him, telling me that he was the “real deal.”

Obviously, she taught me how to be a volunteer and give of myself.

She taught me how important family is, whether its full blood, half blood or marriage, my Mom taught me that family is family and that’s just the way it was.  No matter what she had going on; she made sure she always made the trek from Florida to Pennsylvania to get to her grand-children’s high school & college graduations.  She had both full-blooded grand-children and step grand-children, but referred to them all as her grand-children – period.

She taught me that as a parent, God only requires me to teach my children two things, and that is to teach them how to walk and then to teach them how to walk away and that the second requirement is whole lot tougher than the first.

She taught me that living your life with the Serenity Prayer as a motto is a pretty good thing.

The day my mother died, I was at a baseball coaches clinic in Cherry Hill, NJ, one of the speakers, Pat McMahon, who at the time was the head coach at the University of Florida and I have gotten to know very well over the past few years, ended his segment by giving us a quiz, he asked us to answer two sets of questions…

The first set was to name the three richest people in the world; name the last three Heisman Trophy winners; and name the last three Super Bowl Champions.

The second set of questions was to name three family members; name three friends; and name three people who have taught you something.

After we all had our answers, he asked for a show of hands as to who had all nine names filled in on the first list.  In a room of close to 300 people, not one hand came up.

He then asked for a show of hands as to who had nine names on the second list.  Every hand in the room came up.

The moral of his story was that after all the fame, fortune and accolades, people will quickly forget about you.  However, the second list is a list that can stand the test of time.  Family, friends and teachers will be with you forever and as coaches, we should strive to get on every one of our players second lists.

My mother was at the top of all three of my lists for the second set of questions.

She lived her life to the fullest, she had no regrets.  She touched the lives of so many people, it’s impossible to fathom.

It was stunning to have so many people that I had never met before, come up to me at her memorial service or send us a letter after her death telling me that my Mom “saved their life” or impacted their life in some way.

She always had a unique outlook on life, she could find something good in everyone, but was never afraid to tell you when you screwed up either.

I will miss her dearly, but thank God that I had her for a mother.

She is still my hero and will always be the “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

It is very much for that reason that my wife, our golden retriever and I have answered the call to embark on our own journey and tell the stories of the many little people in many little places that are doing many little things to make the whole world change during the course of the “Journey of My Mother’s Son.”