POLAND, OH (WKBN)-“Michael loved the game of baseball, and it just so happened that his father was a major league umpire.”
Valley resident John Hirschbeck spent 34 years in the big leagues as an umpire making crucial calls on the game’s biggest stages, but some of his fondest memories involve the time he spent on the diamond with his son Michael.
“He just had that big Michael grin on his face and he was just happy to be on that field and being a batboy and he took it seriously,” says Hirschbeck
But in 2014, Michael passed away from complications of Adrenoleukodystrophy or ALD, a genetic brain disease that also took the life of Hirschbeck’s first son John.
“Michael’s death was very abrupt. We, Denise and I thought you know, with his disabilities he would be with us forever,” says Hirschbeck.
“As beautiful as it is out here, and as great as life is, it is never going to be the same. But you still make the most of what you have and move on.”
And with that mindset, Hirschbeck, along with his wife, two daughters and a slew of Michael’s friends, created the Magic of Michael foundation. Helping not just those with ALD in Northeast Ohio, but local foundations like The United Way, The Boys and Girls Club and Akron Children’s Hospital.
“Help kids in the community that may not have the resources to get the things they need whether it be a ramp or a service dog so we have been able to help a lot of kids so it has been wonderful,” says Erin Hirschbeck, Michael’s sister and President of the Magic of Michael Foundation.
“Just the idea of being able to help other people, in Michael’s memory especially has been very fulfilling,” said the former MLB ump.
And for the 3rd-straight year, the Magic of Michael Foundation will bring some of baseball’s best to the Valley for the annual golf outing and dinner with Terry Francona, Jim Thome and Tom Hamilton coming to town in September an event they say could not be done without the area’s support.
“Just knowing how much people care and that they remember Michael and they want to do things to make this successful and help other people,” says John.
“To be able to keep Michael’s memory alive, and touch so many other lives, it just means a lot. The support from the community has been overwhelming.”
The golf outing is scheduled for July and dinner with Francona, Hamilton and Thome is Wednesday, September 13th. For tickets and information call 330-233-4965.