Tom Cranmore - "Helping Kids Aim for the Stars"
Baseball has long been called "America's favorite past-time."
But for one father of four, baseball is his life. And, it's his love of the game that drives young players to keep aiming for the stars.
This week's 'Pay it Forward' takes us to the Middle Valley ball fields.
That's where Lori Reed is more than ready to honor her son-in-law.
Lori says very matter-of-factly, "If I had put an order into God he couldn't have sent me anybody any better."
Tom Cranmore gives his all to children's baseball, and when someone recently vandalized the Middle Valley concession stand he took it to heart.
"It just hurt Tom so badly that the parents, including himself, have worked so hard because the proceeds from that concession stand goes right back into the ball fields for the electricity, to pay the umpires, things like that."
Lori tells me that Tom thinks that his wife Toni's car has broken down and that it's not unusual for him to leave work to rescue a stranded family member.
Tom and Toni's two youngest sons are also in on the surprise.
Tom arrives right on time and makes his way out of his car.
He's surprised to find out his mother-in-law waiting in the ball park's parking lot with $500 cash.
Lori explains, "I know that recently you've been vandalized here and you've lost a lot of the supplies that you and the other parents had put in this, so, until you can get in some better shape... on behalf of McMahan Law Firm and NewsChannel 9 and 'Pay it Forward' I would like to give you $500. Hold your hand out."
Tom asks nearly speechless, "Seriously?"
Lori counts out the cash. He thanks her and then two of Tom's children and his wife make their way around his car to hug their unsung hero.
Tom tells me that the money will go to the kids at the ballpark.
"That's what it's about," he says.
Tom was a child when his own father passed away but a mentor would shape his life through baseball.
"I had a coach when I was a kid. His name was Lee Green. We weren't a very good team. We got hammered. We used to come down here (Middle Valley) and just get kicked all over the field and I played out of Sale Creek. He taught me to love this. It's America's past time. It's not life."
Smiling, Tom tells me he hopes to have grandchildren one day in which he can coach Little League.
"To see a kid do something that normally doesn't excel like your All-Stars or your "select" teams, and just see them stand on a base, or see them hit a homerun and hold both hands up... That makes it all worth it. You would not believe it."
Tom has coached more than 500 kids over the last 15 years and says he loves every minute of it.
By the way, Tom Cranmore took ALL $500 of his Pay it Forward money and donated it right back to the Middle Valley ball fields!
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