One of the few benefits of being 5-foot-4 1/2 is that I don’t often get recognized in public. People see me and think, “Nah, the guy on TV is taller.”
When people do identify me, though, they invariably ask me a question — and no, it’s not, “Dude, why are you so short?” (although yes, I do get asked that, particularly by my good friends on Twitter).
No, what folks want to know is this:
“Where’s the bow tie?”
Players often greet me with those words. So do fans at ballparks, TSA screeners in airports and random people on the streets of New York (are there any other kind?)
At first, I was sort of startled by the question. I’m a baseball writer, for heaven’s sake. I rarely dressed up before I was on television. Do people seriously think that I’m the baseball version of Tucker Carlson or — gasp — Pee Wee Herman, wearing bow ties all the time?
Evidently, some do.
But the truth is, I wear bow ties only on MLB on FOX broadcasts, and only for one reason:
To raise awareness for charities and other groups and institutions supported by Dhani Jones’ philanthropic initiative, BowTie Cause.
And yes, I will again wear the ties on FOX every week during the regular season, starting with one for the American Diabetes Association this Saturday in Detroit (Red Sox at Tigers, 4:05 p.m. ET). I also will wear the ties in October during our coverage of the National League Championship Series and World Series.
A year ago, I wrote a lengthy column how this whole thing came about. I frequently explain why I wear the ties on Twitter. But of course, there are some people who think I am trying to A) draw attention to myself; B) make a fashion statement or C) just plain look stupid.
I hear from some of these people on Twitter virtually every time I pop up during a broadcast. Many are just smart asses, but some undoubtedly are seeing me on FOX for the first time.
Most folks pipe down when I respond that the ties are for charity. But hey, if they want to ask questions, I’m happy to give answers — especially if they lead to a broader understanding of what BowTie Cause is all about.
• What does BowTie Cause want to accomplish?
It’s pretty simple, really — the ties are a way to raise awareness, get people thinking, get people talking.
• Who designs the ties?
Jones and BowTie Cause CEO Chad Williamson. Both have 48 x 96 whiteboards in their respective homes. They also design ties on a giant whiteboard at BowTie Café in Cincinnati.
The designs often incorporate the logos of the non-profits. For example, the Autism Speaks tie, which I will wear on April 28, features the organization’s trademark puzzle pieces.
The process from design to delivery normally takes about 12 weeks.
• Are the ties clip-ons?
C’mon now! I tie ‘em myself — though it sometimes takes me three or four tries to get it right (Jones, on the other hand, can tie one while walking down the street).
• Are the ties for sale?
Yes, and they soon will be easier to purchase. The BowTie Cause is revamping its website, bowtiecause.org, to better serve its partners — more than 60 of ‘em, and counting.
• Where does the money go?
The proceeds benefit the organizations that each bow tie represents. Some organizations use the ties solely as an awareness tool. Others use it for awareness and fundraising.
BowTie Cause charges the organizations for the costs of the ties, but that is not the extent of the partnership. Jones and Williamson often travel to attend specific events and use social media to help support their partners and raise awareness.
To this point, BowTie Cause has raised more than $350,000 for the various non-profits, Williamson says.
• Are the ties I wore for each game last season for sale?
We’re working on it.
The presentations will include both my autograph and Jones’ (Jones was an NFL linebacker for 11 seasons; his signature might actually be worth something.)
All proceeds will go to the specific charity. Announcement to come later.
• How can an organization get involved?
By contacting Williamson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Williamson received a Masters in Public Service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
Trust me, he gets this stuff.
• Will I be wearing the same ties this season?
No. Almost all will be different.
After the American Diabetes Association, my next three ties will be for the Brian Grant Foundation and Gardner Center for Parkinson’s Research; the Page Education Foundation and Autism Speaks.
Among the other ties planned for this season: The Armed Forces Foundation, USAID, Easter Seals, the U.S. Green Building Council (Haiti), the Charlie Foundation (epilepsy) and Starlight Children’s Foundation.
On July 21, I will wear the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation tie in honor of the Hall of Fame induction of the late Ron Santo, who was a Type 1 diabetic.
Actually, I am honored to wear each and every tie, and to represent so many great organizations.