Plaschke: Fighting the ravages of Alzheimer’s and dementia with the beauty of baseball

From Bill Plaschke at the Los Angeles Times on July 28, 2019, with mention of SABR member Jon Leonoudakis:

It starts with a baseball.

Each person who attends the monthly BasebALZ program in a conference room at the offices of Alzheimer’s Los Angeles is handed one, faded and scuffed.

For the next two hours, those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia will hold that baseball.

Some will clutch it tightly as they listen to stories about former baseball greats. Others will roll it around in their palms as they watch presentations about baseball’s historic moments. At some point, they will be asked to reach back into their own baseball history.


“Watching what happens here is like watching people come to life,” says Anne Oh, manager of support groups and activity programs for ALZLA.

Even in a summer when the major leagues’ best team plays at Dodger Stadium and its best player plays at Angel Stadium, nowhere is the power of baseball in Los Angeles better illustrated than on the fourth floor of this mid-Wilshire office building.

Led by members of the Los Angeles chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research, a group of as many seven dementia patients and their companion caregivers participates in what is known as baseball reminiscence therapy.

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Originally published: July 29, 2019. Last Updated: July 29, 2019.