For as long as Steve Gorman can remember, baseball has provided a connection to his older brother Jim. When Steve moved from Baltimore to Kentucky in 1975, he kept up with his beloved Orioles through day-old box scores in the local newspaper. When the Orioles would make an appearance on national television, the phone rang and Jim would tell Steve to watch for him on the broadcast.
Jim, the first white player to play basketball at Morgan State, had a penchant for finding the camera and making onto TV during special moments in Orioles history. Whenever he did, his younger brother always felt a little closer to Jim. And a little closer to his Baltimore baseball roots.
Check out this video recapping the 1970 World Series in which the Orioles beat the Reds. At the 46-second mark, as the Birds are whooping it up at the mound, a gangly kid wearing plaid pants joins the Orioles mob and thrusts his arm in the air in celebration of the conquest of The Big Red machine. That’s Jim. Or this video from the 1971 World Series, where Jim (this time in blue pants and a long-sleeved shirt), snags second baseman Dave Cash’s cap from his head as the Pirates celebrate beating the Orioles at the 40-second mark. At the 1:29 mark, Jim makes it all the way into the victorious clubhouse before being ushered out.
“We were nine years apart,” said Steve Gorman, 51, in a telephone interview from his Nashville home. “I was 4 and he was 13. There wasn’t a lot that we had in common. But baseball, the Orioles, we had that in common. We always have.”
The brothers will bond over Orioles baseball again Sunday at Camden Yards, but this time with a mission to provide awareness of and raise money for a deadly disease. Jim, still a Baltimore resident, is battling Multiple System Atrophy, a rare degenerative neurologic condition that affects both men and women, usually starting in their 50s or 60s.
Because the symptoms of MSA mimic other neurologic conditions, it’s rarely quickly diagnosed. In fact, diagnosis often comes only after ruling out other potential health issues, a process that can take as long as several years. Many of the 13,000 people with MSA have only eight to 10 years once they are diagnosed.
“It’s a lot of frustration,” said Steve, the longtime drummer for The Black Crowes who now hosts a weeknight sports talk show on FOX Sports Radio. “All you want is an answer. But if the answer is MSA, it’s not a good one. ... It’s a brutal disease. There is no cure; it’s fatal.”
That’s what’s bringing the Gorman brothers, along with other friends and family members to Camden Yards for Sunday’s game against the Yankees. Steve and Jim want to enjoy some Orioles baseball - just as they always have. And Jim, 60, who is transitioning to a wheelchair, wants to share his story in the hopes that funds can be raised to fight the disease that has affected his life since his symptoms first surfaced in 2008 and 2009.
“He knows what he’s up against,” Steve said of his brother. “He knows what this disease is and what it does. ... The MSA community is a strong community, but it’s a community that everybody wishes didn’t have to exist.”
The Orioles have partnered with the Charlotte, N.C.-based Multiple System Atrophy Coalition to give the Gormans a platform to raise awareness and solicit donations.
“If people want to donate, they need to know that all the money goes to research,” Steve said.
Tom Looney, a contemporary of Jim Gorman’s who played college basketball at Mount St. Mary’s, was diagnosed with MSA in 2008. Looney, who now lives in Wilmington, N.C., and will be at Sunday’s game, said the opportunity for Jim to share his story to a large crowd at a Yankees-Orioles game is important because it gives him the opportunity to put a face on an often misunderstood disease, which is frequently mistakenly confused with the more widely known Parkinson’s Disease.
“MSA deserves its own label ... and having Jim at the Orioles game humanizes MSA on a grander scale,” Looney explained. “It makes it more approachable, easier for people to listen and learn about MSA.”
About 30 family members and friends of the Gormans will be at Camden Yards on Sunday.
“Jim’s very excited,” Steve said. “I don’t know how many Orioles games he’ll be able to go to, but he can go to this one now. It couldn’t mean more to him - or to me.”
To learn more about MSA, visit the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition here.
To make a donation to the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition, click here.
To learn more about Jim Gorman’s story, text JIM to 51555. Standard data and messaging rates may apply.