I have known Sean Maloney for more than 30 years. We grew up here in North Kingstown, a year apart, and played recreation sports like basketball and baseball with and against each other. Sean was a standout on the baseball team I was lucky enough to be part of at North Kingstown High School. As his career progressed into college and then eventually into professional baseball, I followed his progress through friends and the occasional newspaper article. I remember running into him at the gym sometime in his pro career and told him how proud I was to have played side by side with a Major Leaguer. Humble as always, Sean thanked me, shook my hand and then got back to working out. My mother has a picture of a high school game with Sean on the mound throwing to me at first base, attempting to pick off a runner. I have shown my boys, each of them current or former Wickford Little League players, that picture. Proving that even if you are from a small town in Rhode Island, you can achieve amazing things, like being a professional baseball player.
Sean continues to achieve amazing things – businessman, community leader through Wickford Little League, and most of all, a father. The passing of his wife, Julie Swistak Maloney, in 2014 deeply saddened the North Kingstown and Jamestown communities. I remember Julie to be an incredible athlete, a devoted wife, and an outstanding role model to her children. She always made time to say hello and had tons of friends around town. This year marks the 3rd Annual Jog for Julie & Dana Farber 5K. I asked Sean for a few moments for his thoughts on the event, parenting, baseball, and above all, Julie. Admittedly, I was emotionally in awe of what he had to say, some of it I am choosing not to print. Sean and his children and family continue to do amazing things for whom Sean described as “one of those great people,” his wife and mother of 4 amazing children, Julie Maloney. Here is an excerpt from our conversation:
Sean, thanks for taking some time before Kate’s game to speak with me. So, the 3rd Annual Jog for Julie & Dana Farber 5K is coming up. How did this all come about? Why a road race to honor Julie?
Thanks. Honestly, I was sitting on my couch with a few of my closest friends. It was about a month after Julie had passed. We were talking about doing something in the community to remember Julie. Spontaneously, I said ‘I want to a 5K with the proceeds going to Dana Farber.’ The group all looked at me, saw how passionate I was about it, and collectively said ‘Let’s make it happen.’ We had close to 900 runners that inaugural 5K, all due to the incredible team effort by my friends and family and the community of North Kingstown.
What did that mean to you and your family, to have the North Kingstown community walk and run with you to honor Julie?
It made me proud of where I came from. A lot of people, myself and Julie included, move away from North Kingstown. School, professional, me with baseball. Whatever the reason. A lot of them, like Julie and I, come back to North Kingstown to raise a family. It made me really appreciate North Kingstown. The response from the community has been overwhelming.
Of course, there are hundreds if not thousands of families in North Kingstown and Jamestown that know the Maloneys and Swistaks. If you met someone registering for the Jog for Julie, new to North Kingstown, what would you tell him/her about Julie? And the connection to Dana Farber?
That she was a friend for life. She was there for me during my professional career, moving with me from town to town. With the exception of the time she was in graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill, Julie traveled with me as my professional career took me from Tucscon, AZ to small towns to the big leagues. When we moved back to North Kingstown, she was the rock at my house. My kids are who they are today because of the values and morals and love Julie poured into them everyday. When I was working, she was driving the kids to practice, or making dinner, or helping out in the community. She had tons of friends in town because she was so likeable and honest and funny and she was just one of those great people you meet. As for Dana Farber, her doctor treated her like a daughter. For 8 years, when we had great news, he laughed and cheered and hugged us like we were family. When there was sad news, he was sitting with us crying. I’ll never forget them for their unrelenting generosity and heart for Julie. That’s why it was so important from my family and I to do this event, to honor Julie and to honor the team at Dana Farber.
Sean, we are sitting here on the bleachers of Wilson Park overlooking the AAA field. Your daughter is out practicing for her baseball game. You mentioned your son plays for the Wickford Middle School team and your two older boys are now at North Kingstown High School. What are your emotions when you watch your children play the game of baseball?
Again, Julie had a lot to do with their development as not only baseball players, but on the basketball court as well. A lot of people know that she was a huge Red Sox fan. She was the one who put the Red Sox game on in the background, and would stay up to watch the end of a game. When I would go to bed, thinking the Sox were out of game, Julie would stay up and fill me in the next morning that the Sox pulled out a late, exciting victory. She took my kids to practices and games when I was stuck at work. She made sure that they didn’t miss out on friends and birthday parties and school events. Her loss is felt everyday. My kids miss their mother, I miss my wife. My kids have written ‘Mom’ or a personal message inside their hats. We have a quilt with some of Julie’s athletic jerseys that the kids wrap themselves up in at times. But it goes far beyond physical items like hats and quilts. When I see them on the field, when they interact with other kids or adults, I see Julie’s influence. She was an amazing mother and wife.
And now watching and helping Kate in Wickford Little League, how has that been?
I love being on the field and helping kids play the game the right way. I pulled Kate out of softball so she could participate in Wickford Little League baseball. Baseball provides a few hours of fun, enjoyment, and excitement for my family. Julie was a huge baseball fan and is with Kate for every swing, every hit, every catch. For that matter, Julie is with us – all of my family, all of my kids, all of my friends – every day. I invite everyone to come out June 18th to remember an amazing woman and support an amazing group at Dana Farber. Thank you very much from my team, my kids, and my family.
To date, the Jog for Julie event has raised over $73,000 for Dana Farber Institute. The event, a family fun 5K which starts at North Kingstown High School, heads down Annaquetucket Rd, then Tower Hill Rd, then right into Wickford, over the newly opened Hussey Bridge, and then back onto Fairway Drive to finish at North Kingstown High School is Saturday June 18th at 9am. To sign up for the event, follow this link – Jog for Julie – and register online. Help Sean, the Maloney’s, the Swistaks, and the North Kingstown community continue to do amazing things to remember Julie and support the work at the Dana Farber Institute.
3rd Annual Jog for Julie & Dana Farber 5K
Saturday June 18th
Starts at 9am
North Kingstown High School
All ages welcome
Live music, great food, great community event