Losing a loved one can often lead to depression and grief. Just ask Tony Saladino. He lost his father in the prime of his life.
How he took a devastating loss to help others is "What's Right With Tampa Bay."
His trophy case is a shrine, who's who of baseball royalty. 78-year-old Tony Saladino has collected baseballs for more than 60 years.
"I was an autograph seeker when I was a kid, was into autographs, and still have everything I ever got," Tony said.
He is a baseball enthusiast and an elementary P. E. teacher with no intentions of retiring. It's his connection to kids and sports that has kept him going for 50 years.
"I look at them as clay and I try and mold them into good citizens," Tony said.
Affectionately called Coach Saladino, he wanted to do something to honor his dad who died suddenly at age 46.
"We were like brothers, grew up together. He was my idol," Tony said.
In 1981, he started The Tony Saladino Baseball Tournament, named after his dad. It's a tournament for Hillsborough County high school baseball teams that attracts scouts and college coaches from around the country.
"My dad was a role model to me," Tony says.
Tony doesn't do it for accolades or awards. He does it to help kids, to honor a father he lost long ago, and for a love of the game that will never die.
"They're going to grow up to be citizens and we want them to become caring and responsible citizens," Tony said.
This is Tony's 34th year for this Tampa tradition.
"It's a labor of love but a good labor of love. We just have a good time doing this," Tony said.
Changing young lives one swing at a time.
More info: www.saladinotournament.com
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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