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Institute will accept player's $50,000 donation Kennedy Krieger first gets umpire's approval

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Kennedy Krieger Institute will accept a $50,000 gift pledged by Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar, and matched by the Orioles, despite a request from umpires that the money be rejected.

The money was offered by Alomar on Monday as part of an apology to American League umpire John Hirschbeck, whom Alomar spat on during an argument over a called strike Friday in Toronto.

Tim Welke, a representative of the umpires' union, urged the institute to reject Alomar's money. Accepting it, he said, would send the wrong message, " that if you've got a lot of money, you can buy your way out of trouble."

Dr. Gary Goldstein, the institute's president, said yesterday that he asked Hirschbeck for guidance.

"If he told us he felt we should not take it, we certainly wouldn't," he said. "But he said something good was coming of it [the spitting incident] and he told us to take it."

Doctors said the $100,000 would provide an important boost to the $1.6 million in federal funds spent at Kennedy Krieger annually in the search for a cure for adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).

ALD is the degenerative nerve disease that killed Hirschbeck's 7-year-old son John in 1993, and afflicts his son Michael, 9. Both were treated at Kennedy Krieger.

Goldstein said the unrestricted gifts can be used to explore new research "before we can prove it's worthy of federal dollars. These are dollars we can be very creative with."

Alomar at first tried to explain his behavior by saying that Hirschbeck's on-field demeanor had changed since his son's death. He later expressed his "complete remorse" and hope that "some good can emerge from this unfortunate and, for me, a most regrettable happening."

ALD is a rare genetic disease carried by mothers and passed to their sons. It destroys myelin, a layer of fat that insulates nerve cells, often producing symptoms by the age of 4.

In the worst cases, ALD slowly robs victims of their mental abilities, and then, the ability to walk, talk and swallow. Death or a coma-like state occurs in an average of about two years.

Dr. Hugo W. Moser, 72, director of neurogenetics at Kennedy Krieger, said research has shown that a diet low in these acids, plus a daily supplement called "Lorenzo's oil," can prevent symptoms in many cases. The oil was made famous in a movie about a boy who had ALD.

Pub Date: 10/02/96

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