Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Wizard in His Own Right

By Mark Rogoff and Allie Weinberger
Special Correspondents

Hall of Fame football player Ozzie Newsome was inducted into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum Hall of Excellence prior to Thursday’s United States semifinal.

Newsome, now Executive Vice President/General Manager of the Baltimore Ravens, grew up in a segregated Alabama during the 1960s. The social climate didn’t allow Newsome to play in Little League until the age of 14, when he joined a Senior Little League team in Muscle Shoals. The University of Alabama alum played in the Muscle Shoals Little League Association for two years.

“The fun that we had, I still have some friendships from those two years, I think the foundation was laid for what I do right now,” he said. “I’m in several other Hall of Fames, but when I got the call, the letter that I was going to be enshrined, it awarded me the opportunity to think back to when [I was playing].”

Newsome played baseball in high school, but attended Alabama on a football scholarship. He was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, and went on to catch 662 passes for nearly 8,000 years during his 13-year National Football League career. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

“I’ve always watched the Little League World Series,” Newsome said when asked about taking part in the event. “It’s the excitement that runs through the game. This is something special, not special for the United States, but special for the world.”

Abbott and…Little League

Former major league pitcher Jim Abbott paid a visit to the Little League Baseball World Series on Thursday to help promote a new campaign from the Office of Disability Employment Policy called Proving Individuals with Talent Can Help (PITCH). PITCH encourages businesses to hire people with disabilities and to educate these businesses about the talent people with disabilities can provide.

Abbott, who was born without a right hand, is the campaign spokesperson.

“People with disabilities are known for what they can’t do, not what they can do,” he said. “I wanted to be like everyone else, but being different really is a blessing. You don’t overcome a disability, but you use it and get better.”

Despite not having a right hand, Abbott pitched for 10 seasons in the majors with the California Angels (1989-92 and 1995-96), New York Yankees (1993-94), Chicago White Sox (1995 and 1998) and Milwaukee Brewers (1999). He may best be remembered for tossing a no-hitter on September 4, 1993 against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium. Abbott also won a Gold Medal with Team USA at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.


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