Ex-Royal uses All-Star stage to bring awareness - KCTV5

Ex-Royal uses All-Star stage to bring awareness to neurological disorder

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Many former Kansas City Royals have been taking part in the All-Star festivities, welcoming today's stars to the City of Fountains.

But one former player is using the national stage to bring more awareness to a neurological disorder he has dealt with his entire life.

Jim Eisenreich doesn't like attention. However, no matter how hard he tried during his youth, he couldn't help but attract it - not for his baseball skills, but for the grunts and twitches he couldn't control.

"I had some times when it was really rough, it wasn't fun to go through," Eisenreich said.  "It actually goes back to when I was in Little League, the other team could hear when I would make my noises and movements and they would shake the fence and tease a little bit.

Eisenreich has Tourette's Syndrome. It didn't have a name when he grew up.  He just knew he was different and struggled sometimes to fit in. Some would make fun of him.

"I think the hardest thing is I felt like I was the only person in the world who did this," he said.

But baseball was his escape.

"That was my relief," he said.  "My natural movements with the sport covered up what I did with my tic."

He began his Major League career with the Minnesota Twins, but the inability to control his tics and grunts got to be too much for his teammates.

"I was disrupting our team, the guys were trying to win games, and they realized I wasn't intentionally trying to do all that, so that became an issue and I was removed from that fairly quick," Eisenreich said.

He spent the next two years away from the majors, diagnosing it and learning to control it. Then the Royals called. For the next six years he manned the outfield, and his teammates accepted him for who he was.

"The guys I had in the clubhouse when I got here were tremendous, some of my best friends to this day," he said.

Eisenreich later played for the Phillies, and he won a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins. Now he runs the Tourette's Foundation, to spread awareness and let parents know they can get answers if their child is showing signs of Tourette.

His main message is to show that those with Tourette's can still achieve their dreams.

"I would've never guessed I would've played 14 to 15 years in the big leagues," he said.

Several other professional athletes have Tourette's and have thrived despite the obstacles they've faced.

To learn more about Tourette's Syndrome, click here.

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