Hirschbeck, Alomar have become friends

Spat-upon ump pays visit, calls him `good person'

October 12, 1999|By Joe Roderick | Joe Roderick,CONTRA COSTA TIMES

Umpire John Hirschbeck attended Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox at Jacobs Field. Believe it or not, he was there to watch one of his friends, Indians second baseman Roberto Alomar.

"It just goes to show you what two people can do when they put their minds to it," Hirschbeck told the Boston Globe.

You remember these two? Three years ago in Toronto, Alomar, then with the Orioles, spit in Hirschbeck's face over a call the umpire had made.

The next day, Alomar explained that Hirschbeck hadn't been the same since 1993, when his son, John, died of andrenoleukodystrophy, a rare brain disease. When the umpire heard the comments, he went after Alomar.

How have they managed to patch things up and become friends? It was Alomar's older brother, Sandy, who urged Hirschbeck to talk to his brother. They did. When the two now meet, Roberto asks Hirschbeck about his 13-year-old son, Michael, who also has ALD but has been able to slow the disease's pace by receiving a bone-marrow transplant from his sister.

The Alomars also have donated sports memorabilia to Hirschbeck in an effort to raise money and find a cure for the disease.

"I still perceive him as a good person," Hirschbeck said of Roberto. "He said he regrets what he did and that he's sorry. Hey, if you're not big enough to forgive somebody, you've got more problems than you realize."

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