Newman Aims to Give Back With Charity Softball Event
WHEELING – J.J. Newman had a successful baseball career at Wheeling Park, went on to college and was drafted by the New York Mets in the 35th round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 2006.
Newman is no longer in the Mets’ system but has used what he knows about the game to conduct camps and help with charity events all over the country.
Now he wants to help others in the Ohio Valley know the joy of playing America’s pastime.
Newman is putting on a celebrity softball game at 1 p.m. June 23 at 47th Street in Wheeling with all proceeds going to help the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley.
”I had no idea about the Miracle League until this past fall, but I was looking to do a celebrity event and give the money to charity,” Newman said. ”I found out about it from one of my friends that owns Joe’s Auto in Moundsville. His son has cerebral palsy and can’t play baseball on a normal team.
”This went hand and hand with I wanted to do and I think it’s fantastic. All the people in the Easter Seals have come together to help me with this. It has been great.”
Some of the pro athletes Newman has scheduled to participate are former Pittsburgh Steeler Max Starks, Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, and Clint Sintim of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, and free agent Steve Cargile.
Hixon, a good friend of Newman’s, is from Columbus and puts on a charity event there every year. That gave Newman the idea to give something back to his hometown.
”There are little things for charity, but no one really does something like this,” Newman said. ”It sparked an interest in me. I have partaken in all my friends’ events and they have always been a blast and raised good money. I think the valley needs something like this.
”I was blessed enough to have a little bit of a spotlight on me with being drafted and the community has always been real good to me. I felt in the position I was in, I could draw some attention to it and then with my friends – four Super Bowl champions – they can draw even more attention. I am in a position to give back and that’s what I wanted to do.”
The event, sponsored by DiCarlo’s Pizza, Gary Dietz, All State Insurance, Gary’s Body Shop, Joe’s Auto, and Dr. Jeremy Edgmon, will be free of charge. Buckets will be passed around for donations to the Miracle League.
There will music by D.J. Daner and commentating on the game will be comedian Chris Miller.
The athletes will be put on a team together to take on members of the community, such as police officers, firemen, delegates, attorneys, etc., as well as The Intelligencer’s Jim Elliott.
There will also be a home run derby.
”I threw this on my Facebook and Twitter and it has gotten great reception,” Newman. ”The word is getting out and I am pretty excited. I want to this to be an annual thing, whether it be a softball game or a basketball game or a golf outing that will go to some kind of charity.
”I came from very humble beginnings and I am blessed. I want to let people in the this community to remember where you came from. It’s the best feeling in the world to give back. The city of Wheeling has been my family.
”I want to make sure everything they (Miracle League) need is taken care of. If there is anything they missed, whether it be uniforms or certain gear that they need, they have it because everyone deserves the chance to play baseball.”