For guys of my generation, as a kid, there were very few things that were as exciting as watching ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”. In the pre-ESPN era, there were minimal options for budding sports fans. One of them was “WWoS”, hosted by Hall of Fame sportscaster, Jim McKay. Cliff diving in Acapulco, the Little League World Series, the rodeo, ski jumping. It was all good. The one thing I really looked forward to though, was the Harlem Globetrotters. Resplendent in their red, white and blue uniforms, Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal, Geese Ausbie and Marcus Haynes would thrill and amaze the audience with their special brand of basketball and fun. I’ve been in the audience as a child and as a parent, and it never gets old. One man who’s had a front row seat to the Globies’ antics is PawSox athletic trainer, John Jochim (pronounced YO-kum). Before joining the Red Sox, Jochim spanned the globe with the Trotters. “JJ” is in his first year with Pawtucket, but he’s no stranger to the Boston organization, working his way through the ranks over the better part of the last decade. Jochim started with the Sox in 2003.
The Sox invest millions in their players, and it could be a daunting task to keep the guys healthy and on the field, but Jochim takes it all in stride. “It’s my job. That’s why I love what I do. These guys are a good group of guys and they’re fun to work with. Baseball players are fun to be around. It’s Americas’ pasttime.”
You may see Jochim occasionally as he comes out onto the field to tend to an injured player, but his day begins long before the National Anthem is sung. “It depends on the day. Typically for me, it’s about 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. A lot of the early stuff is personal time for me, to get things organized and up and running.”
Jochim wears many hats as an athletic trainer. Part-time babysitter, psychologist, travel agent. The list goes on and on. “We’re known as Jacks of all trades as the profession has progressed. We take those responsibilities as they come and do what we have to do to make everything work.” That may include scheduling bus or van rides to the park or making travel plans for a promoted player. All in a days’ work.
Before he began his baseball career, JJ worked in hockey and basketball, as well. He was athletic trainer to one of the worlds’ most famous group of athletes, The Harlem Globetrotters. “I was very fortunate to work with the Globetrotters from 2000 to 2003. It allowed me to travel a lot and see a lot of things I never thought I would see.” While we travel to the same I.L. cities year after year, Jochim gave his passport a thorough workout. “In three years, I went to 47 of the states as well as 13 different countries. Among them, Germany, Spain, Holland, Iceland and Mexico. John says that no matter where the team travelled, whether English was spoken or not, the Trotters always have a positive effect. “They’re so well known and respected throughout the entire world. The ambassadors of good will is what they’re known as and where ever they go, people know who they are and what they’re all about. They always end up putting smiles on fans’ faces. It’s great for basketball specifically and the world of sports in general to have the Globetrotters.”
Don’t go looking for Lemon or Neal. Some of the old timers have died, some have retired. Jochim says there is a fresh new generation of basketball wizards weaving their magic to the sounds of “Sweet Georgia Brown”. “A lot of the old stars are still around and a part of the organization. The new guys bring a whole different “spin” to the Globtrotter way.” There is one thing JJ says is the common denominator between old and new “school”. “They are phenomenal basketball players, phenomenal guys and it’s a lot of fun to watch and be a part of.”
Jochim says there is no difference between tending to the Globetrotters or the PawSox. “An injury is an injury, a sport is a sport.” Usually with the PawSox, though, you won’t get doused with a bucket of water, or confetti, for that matter.