Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: 10 Things About the Rookie Outfielder
One of the best sports movies of all time is "Field of Dreams."
The movie told the story of Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner constructing a baseball diamond on his cornfield in Iowa.
The film did a wonderful job of allowing us to revisit baseball in its infancy and enjoy what it meant to our fathers and grandfathers.
As the film progressed, we saw Ray reconcile with his father and ease his pain all on the baseball diamond he built.
My father was born in Macon, Georgia in 1918 and had to endure the harsh Jim Crow segregation policies of the time.
As a boy, he like many others fell in love with the game of baseball. All the neighborhood kids played where all you really needed was a bat, a ball and a vacant field, parking lot, or dead-end street.
Baseball was universal. It was indeed America’s game.
As an adult, and veteran of World War II, my father religiously followed Jackie Robinson and brimmed with pride as he withstood terrible treatment while performing incredible feats on the field and off.
Branch Rickey selected Robinson because he had unique qualities in addition to his baseball ability.
Robinson was educated at UCLA, where he had class and was a tremendously gifted and disciplined man.
Jason Heyward is one of the breakout performers of 2010 and has excited the Atlanta Braves faithful with his sparkling play.
Heyward's blend of size, strength, speed and athleticism evokes comparisons to Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.
He grew up in McDonough, Georgia and displayed some of the attributes that many looked up to Jackie Robinson for.
Major league baseball has changed a lot in 50 years.
There are a number of African American stars in the league earning phenomenal salaries, but the game has been tainted by the many scandals of steroid use.
Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds are just a few who have had their star tarnished by either admitting or being rumored to have used steroids.
Many of today’s players are not characterized as role models and should not be based on their off the field behavior.
Heyward so far displays the attitude and character that helps sell major league baseball to the masses. Baseball is in need of new faces like Heyward.
The game has lost a lot of its luster in the last decade.
In a city with a large number of African American youth, Jason Heyward has the potential to help attract a new generation of fans to the game.
Not only are his feats on the field noteworthy, but also his behavior off it.
Let’s look at 10 things you need to know about the 20-year-old Atlanta Braves rookie outfielder.
Minor League Player of the Year
Jason was voted Minor League Player of the Year in 2009 by Baseball America.
His First Home Run Traveled 476 feet
He has already gained a reputation for monster home runs.
He destroyed a car window in batting practice with a 450-foot home run.
His Parents Attended an Ivy League School
Jason Heyward's parents attended Dartmouth and insisted that he maintain acceptable grades even though he showed early acumen for baseball.
His father gave him no choice having been a exceptional student athlete himself.
He likes Musicians TI and Jay Z
He enjoys rap music and particularly likes rappers Jay-Z and TI.
He Enjoys Poetry
Jason likes poetry and has dabbled in writing himself.
He said that he uses poetry to relax and reflect.
His Jersey Number Is Very Popular
The No. 22 jersey is already a hot commodity on the Internet and in the stadium gift shops.
The jersey can be seen all over the stadium.
He Grew Up 30 minutes From Turner Field
Heyward played for the East Cobb Astros in the Atlanta area.
He was a standout performer, leading the team in almost every statistical category.
His First Rookie Initiation Was a Shaving Cream Pie
Heyward's face was treated to his first shaving cream pie courtesy of Atlanta reliever Peter Moylan in a game with over 50,000 attendees.
Jason continued his interview session while he wiped his face clean of the cream pie.
His Father and Uncle Both Played College Basketball
Jason's uncle played basketball for John Wooden.
His father, Eugene, was also a standout player for Dartmouth.
Hank Aaron Regards Heyward As Important to Baseball
Former all-time home run leader and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron is high on Heyward.
His advice to him is "keep doing what you have been doing."