Garrettsville – A hit commercial in 1975 featured a catchy jingle about America’s favorite things: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie & Chevrolet! Nearly 40 years later, a Chevy dealership in Garrettsville has resurrected the feel-good spirit of that tune.In a generous move that goes beyond typical village-sized philanthropy, Bruce Abraham of Garrettsville’s Charles Auto Family provided 453 tickets to an Indians baseball game in Cleveland for players in the Garrettsville Hot Stove Baseball League, their coaches and their families. It began as a simple civic gesture in honor of his late father, Charlie, who passed away May 21. It grew to become Garrettsville’s night to shine in the city lights, thanks to a legacy of Abraham-style goodwill.
On June 18, the large and enthusiastic Garrettsville contingent paraded in uniform around the baseball diamond during the pre-game show at Progressive Field. Then Hot Stove League President Phil Britton met with Charles Auto salesman Bo Childress, Scott Barnard and Indians mascot Slider at home plate. There, with the scene projected in lights on the huge overhead banner, a $500 check was presented from Charles Auto Family to Garrettsville’s Hot Stove Baseball League.To make the big night out on the town even more memorable, the Indians beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-to-1. Then, after the game and fireworks show, Donnie Iris & The Cruisers and Michael Stanley & The Resonators put on a rock concert to close out the night.“It was really special,” said an enthused Bo Childress. “I’m going to be 62 years old, but I felt like a little kid out there on the field, taking it all in. It was unbelievably generous of Bruce to purchase all those tickets. But he just shrugged and said, ‘It’s what my dad would have wanted to do’.”According to Bruce, he got a call about a month ago with a request that he sponsor 8-10 baseball players to attend an Indians game and get their picture taken on the field. “But how in the world was I supposed to choose just a handful of kids from the entire league?” he recalled. “I couldn’t do that, so I opened up the opportunity to all the players and their families, as a tribute to my dad. I expected to take 50-100 people to the game; but I ended up taking almost 500!”Britton said, “Everyone was very excited about the opportunity to go and be able to be in the parade. They were all shocked when they heard that the tickets were free and they could take their whole family. A good time was had by all…”“As it turned out, it was a beautiful night for baseball…” Bruce said. “Nothing could have turned out better except that I wasn’t able to attend myself. I was out West with my son, motorcycling.”
The Charles Auto Family has supported the baseball league for 50-some years, ever since Charlie Abraham established his auto dealership in Garrettsville back in 1957. Britton said that, in addition to presentation of the $500 check the night of the game, the dealership also donated 10 ball buckets and 10 equipment bags to the league. In addition, they offered a free baseball clinic that league players attended in May at the Cleveland Indians stadium. To Bruce Abraham, it’s just another way to give back to the community.“We’ve always stood for family values, and I can’t think of a better way to do so,” he said. “We do this because it’s the right thing to do.”