The All American Amateur Baseball Association Tournament has had a significant role in Ross Kott’s life during his days as a star player, a successful manager and coach and, eventually, as a AAABA Hall of Famer.
Now, the tournament will touch the life of his 3-year-old son Callan, who was diagnosed with leukemia a few days before Christmas in 2015.
Kott, who lives in New Orleans with his wife, Lisa, and Callan, learned this week of a two-pronged effort during the AAABA Tournament to raise funds for Team Callan and the medical expenses the Kotts face.
A special, locally designed and produced Lego car will be on display at Thursday’s 6 p.m. game at Point Stadium. A charity auction of the car will continue on ebay through 8 p.m. on Sunday.
The AAABA Tournament also will collect donations for Team Callan at the right field entrance to the stadium during Thursday night’s game.
“It shows how Johnstown people stick together,” said Kott, when reached by telephone in New Orleans. “AAABA week was something that I always looked forward to, going to the games with my dad. He would take his vacation that week to run me to all the games. Finding out now that people are actually rallying around Callan and trying to help out as much as they can is something that you can’t explain the feeling.
“I have a lot of great memories of the tournament. This is something else you can add to that list.”
One of Kott’s classmates at Greater Johnstown High School, Paul Boratko, will use the momentum gained during his appearance on the popular show “Counting Cars” on the History Channel last week to raise funds through an eBay auction for Team Callan.
A West End resident, Boratko designs and builds Lego automobile models through his hobby business Crowkillers, and he is considered a celebrity in the world of Lego.
The 42-year-old uses his talent to raise money for children in need through charity auctions of his cars. Boratko said most times the auctions benefit Make-a-Wish Foundation.
But when he learned of Callan Kott’s diagnosis, he quickly thought of helping an old friend.
On the History Channel show filmed in Las Vegas, Boratko made a Lego replica of the 1956 shop truck used by the show’s star, Danny “The Count” Koker.
The show airbrush-painted one of Boratko’s models in return.
“Right before I sent the model out, a friend of mine posted on Facebook about Ross Kott’s boy,” Boratko said. “I figured this was a good opportunity. Before the show aired, I wasn’t allowed to name the charity. But they did let me talk about what the charity is for.”
Boratko set up an auction on ebay, “Count’s Kustoms & Crowkillers Lego Technic Supercar Charity for Team Callan.” The incredibly detailed car also comes with Danny Koker and Ryan Evans minifigures based on the TV show. The bids were at $1,125 dollars through Wednesday afternoon.
‘Baseball and family’
The Team Callan Facebook page and a YouTube post provide additional information.
“I like to do charity auctions because I can use my building skills to help out kids,” Boratko said.
The generosity touched the Kott family.
“It’s been some time since I’ve spoken with Paul. Paul has never met my son,” Ross Kott said. “For him to offer to first build the car and then go on national TV for Callan’s cause, and then donating all of the proceeds to go toward Callan’s medical bills just shows you how strong the community is and what kind of character the people of Johnstown have.”
Johnstown Oldtimers President George Arcurio III said the tournament wanted to pitch in, once word of Boratko’s auction reached Point Stadium.
The Oldtimers contacted Boratko, who agreed to bring the car to the ballpark. Arcurio said the tournament ambassadors and others will help collect donations for Team Callan.
“The AAABA Tournament is about baseball and family,” Arcurio said. “We want to help a member of our AAABA family. Ross Kott was an important part of this tournament in many different ways as a player for Johnstown, as an assistant coach for New Orleans, and as a manager with Delweld. We wish the best for his son Callan, Ross and his wife Lisa.”
‘One tough 3-year-old’
A 1992 graduate of Johnstown High School, Kott was a two-time MVP of the Johnstown Junior League/AAABA League and played in three AAABA Tournaments with the Knickerbockers (1992), Coca-Cola (1993) and Sani-Dairy (1995). He earned his second most valuable player honor and was a star on the Sani-Dairy team that finished as national runner-up to New Orleans in 1995.
He played for the independent Frontier League Johnstown Steal at the Point in 1997.
The AAABA Hall of Fame inducted Kott in 2013.
Kott found a second home in New Orleans after playing college baseball for Joe Scheuermann, the AAABA Hall of Famer who led the Delgado Community College to national prominence.
The 41-year-old Kott works as director of parking at the historic Saenger Theatre in New Orleans.
Ross Kott said Callan has displayed determination and strength throughout his treatments.
“I never thought I would have to look to a 3-year-old for inspiration,” Kott said of Callan. “It’s unbelievable how he has taken this. He has taken it better than what I thought. I couldn’t even imagine what kind of affect it would have on him.
“He’s one tough 3-year-old.”
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