Year Inducted – 2018
Tom Giffen began a 60-plus-year love affair with Baseball in 1954 in Brainerd, Tenn., courtesy of an uncle and cousin who believed young Thomas needed some athletic culture. The bought him a bat, ball and glove and took him to the first ballfield they could find.
Today, Tom has enjoyed a lifetime the fruits of the game and all the passion it encompasses as a player for almost 50 years, a coach, a manager, an administrator, an umpire and assignor, an organizer, a groundskeeper, an official scorekeeper and as a professional sports journalist, which allowed him access to the game at the highest levels, including Hank Arron’s #715, the end of Pete Rose’s 44-game hitting streak and the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the game’s all-time great players.
Most know Tom as the owner of Roy Hobbs Baseball, an organization dedicated to the proposition that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the greatest team game of them all, and as the founder NEO Roy Hobbs Baseball, which has been the premier adult amateur baseball league in Ohio for almost 30 years.
Roy Hobbs Baseball’s World Series will celebrate its 30th renewal this fall in Fort Myers. Tom and his wife took over a bankrupt company on New Year’s Eve 1992, moved the Roy Hobbs World Series from the Orlando area to Fort Myers with 54 teams. For 2018, more than 245 teams will play for 4 weeks in Fort Myers, some 4400 amateur ballplayers from 43 states and 6 foreign countries playing more than 850 games on 25 MLB-quality fields in 30 days.
Tom was born in Phoenix, played in the first Chattanooga-area Dixie Youth league as an 8-year-old, and started his 35+-year newspaper career with the Chattanooga Times at age 15. He is a 1971 ABJ graduate of the University of Georgia and received his Masters from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, all the while playing baseball and continuing his newspaper career, which included assignments in Jacksonville (IL), Athens, Atlanta, Macon & Columbus (Ga.), the Miami Herald and Akron (Ohio). The last 20 years were with Knight-Ridder properties where his work and his sports staffs were recognized with national industry honors on a regular basis.
He started Summit Senior Baseball in 1989 as a sandlot experiment with the late Rudy Piekarski, turned it into a 4-team league in 1990. He “retired” from the Beacon Journal in 1995 to pursue Roy Hobbs Baseball fulltime. In 2007, the Roy Hobbs Foundation was established to raise funds to support Leukemia research (Tom is an 18-year survivor) and to support baseball opportunities for mentally & physically handicapped youngsters, aka, Challenger Baseball. Following the death of Rudy Piekarski in 2011, Tom agreed to become GABHoF President and helped re-establish the organization over the next 3 years.
Tom and Ellen have called Fort Myers home since 2011 while continuing to maintain an embroidery and specialty goods business in Akron. They have 3 children – Meg, Mac & Rob – and a Golden Retriever named Marley, all of whom are involved in Roy Hobbs Baseball, making it a family business on a daily basis for sure. Baseball is a life-long passion for Tom, but when he needs a change of pace, he turns to cycling, cooking, reading, studying (and drinking) wine, travel and occasionally enjoying a Cuban cigar.