So often in the field of professional sports, players only make the headlines because of negative behavior they have exhibited off the field (Failed drug tests, brushes with the law, etc.). But for those players who do some truly remarkable and inspiring things when not hitting, kicking or catching a ball, little to nothing is ever said.
Last night as I was watching the Orioles’s game (um, that would be before I got so frustrated with Hunter and the grand slam that I had to switch the channel), there was an interesting story about Centerfielder Adam Jones and one Little League World Series player wearing #6 from Uganda named Rolence Okonzi.
Okonzi’s team is the first African team to make it to the Little League World Series. During an interview with the history making Middle East Africa team while in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the tournament, a reporter asked each of the young men who was their absolute favorite Major League Baseball Player. By far, Rolence must be the smartest 11 year old on the whole team, because he answered with “Adam Jones of the Orioles, of course”.
It didn’t take long for word to get back to Adam about this little leaguer, and he hit the ground running. First, he pulled out a pair of cleats that he had worn during a game, and signed them for Rolence. Next, he asked the Orioles organization to pitch in a tee shirt for every member of the Ugandan baseball team.
But, that was not enough! Adam proceeded to go to every player yesterday and request they sign a baseball for the young man who views him as a role model and inspiration.
All of this had to be done in a hurry because it was only a matter of days before the team headed back to Africa. So, this package of memorabilia from Adam and the Orioles was being sent overnight to ensure that Rolence and the others would receive the goodies while still in Williamsport.
Adam, way to go that extra step and make a difference for some young men who are working so hard at their dream of one day playing next to you on a Major League Field. You are a leader on our team, and I hope your teammates have the same pride as I do in this charitable gesture.