Baseball league, military charity have falling out
From right, Mitch Salzstein of Northbrook Charity Stripe confers with Marc Turim of Northbrook Baseball before the Village Green Opening Day military ceremony on April 21. A misunderstanding over Charity Stripe's legal status has damaged relations between
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:03PM
The idea was appealing: Northbrook Baseball League players, plus Glenbrook North High School-aged baseball players, assisting military families via charitable pledges mirroring youth athleticism.
The league’s Opening Day ceremonies April 21 honoring U.S. military included a Purple Heart-decorated U.S. Army staff sergeant shaking hands with youth, all part of “Batter up for the Brave,” organized by The Charity Stripe, a Northbrook-based 501c3 charitable initiative.
Then came the parent phone call.
And though the summer season is now in full swing, The Charity Stripe initiative, which would have collected money for military families based on the team’s accomplishments, was instead placed on hold early in the season by the Baseball League.
“That unfortunately is a sore subject,” said Mitch Salzstein of Northbrook, The Charity Stripe’s executive director.
In late April, a team parent informed the league about The Charity Stripe’s “not in good standing” status found on Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s website.
“There was some woman in Northbrook (who) actually questioned the authenticity of my program,” complained Salzstein, of her viewing of the “not in good standing” website status (about) April 28.
“So all of the sudden, she called Northbrook Baseball and said, ‘Why are you supporting this charity when they are not in good standing?’
“They (the league) got all really, really crazy and started making all of these assumptions,” said Salzstein, the parent of two grown children with his wife Ileen.
The required Illinois Charitable Organization Annual Report was delivered by Salzstein’s attorney in late April (prior to the May 1 due date), said Salzstein. The State of Illinois website was then updated after May 1, he said.
Poor timing resulted in misunderstanding, said Salzstein, who added that $25 in Northbrook donations (via The Charity Stripe) have been received.
“I never thought I would have to defend my honor when we’re defending the honor of soldiers and their families who are sacrificing so much to protect our families and safeguard our freedoms,” said Salzstein.
Marc Turim, a 20-year Northbrook Baseball league director and 22-year Northbrook resident, could not verify the date when the league informed Salzstein of its decision (but it was estimated in early May).
“We voted to go ahead with it (The Charity Stripe) without having a lot of detailed information about what his organization was,” said Turim, who verified Salzstein was invited to pitch the board of directors last spring.
“Everybody was wondering, ‘Should we really move full blast with it?’
The most recent Illinois Attorney General posted annual report for FY 5/1/2009-4/30/2010 lists Ileen G. Salzstein, treasurer, earning $40,350. Total revenue was $102,114, offset by management, fundraising and general expenses.
The six-year-old charity publicizes that 90 percent of donations assist charity.
Salzstein provided the Northbrook Star with a May 4 letter to Northbrook Baseball plus two emails (to the league authored by him).
“A board member (s) identified a $40,000 salary for Ileen Salzstein and a $7,205 office loan as the primary reasons why Northbrook Baseball should pull out of this program,” wrote Salzstein on May 4.
In the May 12 email, Salzstein wrote: “I felt (perhaps unjustly) that Northbrook Baseball pulling out of my program so suddenly and unexpectedly was a result of questioning my character, my honesty and my integrity.
“I felt it was a personal attack and indictment on me.”
Salzstein’s May 17 email claimed The Charity Stripe achieved proper status, “as promised.”
“I am disappointed but quite honestly, I take offense to it,” said Salzstein, who has a separate full-time marketing career.
The Charity Stripe sponsors other sports like basketball.
While Opening Day generated goodwill: “We didn’t have as many of the kids there as we would have liked to participate,” said Turim, who counted “a couple hundred people. We would have liked the whole town to be there.
“The whole thing was to not only honor the veterans but also for the Glenbrook North students to do something philanthropic for their community,” added Turim.
Salzstein claims he invested $1,000 upfront.
“You (the league) need to tell people why this program was cancelled, you need the real reason why this was cancelled which is because they didn’t get their s__t together, that’s the reason,” said Salzstein.
Said Barry Mendel, league vice-chairman: “(The) bottom line is we believe it (Charity Stripe) is a very good cause and would like to find a way to participate in it in some way.”
Added Turim, who was not aware of a contract status: “I have nothing but the highest regard for Mitch, everybody had good intentions.
“We didn’t have time to get the information out to the teams. I don’t blame Mitch, I don’t think it was the league’s fault.
“I sincerely hope we can raise a ton of money for these veterans,” said Turim.
“The army veterans, I can’t think of a better cause than that, can you?”