+
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.
GOOD PEOPLE Book
upworthy

baseball

Curtesy of Shannon van Duijvendijk

Family of little girl take on Mississippi state for baseball tryout

As the old saying goes, "baseball is America's pastime." It was so important that during the second World War, Major League Baseball executives created all women's baseball teams since most of the young men were away fighting. The blockbuster hit movie, "A League of Their Own" details this era that not only provided fans with entertainment but proved women could be fierce competitive baseball players.

One South Mississippi family found themselves in the middle of a battle they didn't anticipate when it came to the game. Their daughter Jewel has been playing baseball since she was 5-years-old on city recreational teams, eventually making All Stars and travel baseball. With the 7th grader aging out of the recreational program, she wanted to join the middle school team.

That's where the problem came in. The girl's mom, Shannon van Duijvendijk says the Ocean Springs School District refused her a tryout for the baseball team.


This is the same school district that has had girls step out of their football cleats to put on a homecoming crown after kicking for the high school team. So the decision seemed a bit confusing for the community who chimed in to support the parents petitioning for Jewel to play on the middle school team.

Jewel is one of two girls planning to try out for the baseball team that many of their male teammates are competing for. But it was van Duijvendijk's husband who was determined to make sure his daughter got to play the game that she loves.

"It was actually my husband. That sense of injustice rose up in him and he was just like 'no, uh uh.'"

The initial call came from the school's athletic director who told them that it was a state rule that girls couldn't play on the baseball team because softball was considered an equivalent. That's when Mr. van Duijvendijk started contacting every person he could find in Jackson to help get his daughter a tryout. But the quest to speak with someone on the state level proved to be futile.

Curtesy of Shannon van Duijvendijk

After finding out the school's grievance policy, the determined dad emailed the superintendent who was extremely responsive according to van Duijvendijk. The mom tells Upworthy that the superintendent contacted people at the state level, eventually reporting back that Mississippi's High School Athletic Association (MSHAA) rule was unclear.

The rule from section 7.6.2 of the MSHAA Handbook reads in part, "When a state championship is offered for girls, they may not play on a boys’ team in that sport.”

As van Duijvendijk points out in her post, baseball and softball are two different sports and that ruling was made official by the NCAA in 2009. So a girls softball team would not be equivalent to a boys baseball team, according to the NCAA rules, the equivalent to baseball is baseball.

van Duijvendijk explains that the family got the most pushback from parents of softball players, which it is suspected the original complaint about girls trying out for baseball originated. There was confusion over why a girl would prefer to play baseball over softball and speculation on if the parents felt that baseball was superior.

But there was no feeling of one sport being superior over the other. In fact, in van Duijvendijk's social media post she writes, "I know a lot of people don’t understand why she chose to play baseball instead of softball, I didn’t for a while either. In the beginning I tried to convince her so many times to make the switch."

Jewel was so steadfast in her determination to play the sport van Duijvendijk says could see it in her eyes. That changed everything for the mom when it came to her support of Jewel's love of the sport. Right now, softball isn't even a practical switch.

"She has never played softball and doesn’t even own the equipment necessary to play the game. We have nothing against softball and we have so much love and respect for the girls that do play it, but that is not the sport she plays."

Curtesy of Shannon van Duijvendijk

Thanks to the determination of a dad who saw his daughter encounter an injustice, a mom who would do anything to support her and a superintendent that was intent on hunting someone down to clear up the rules–Jewel gets to tryout. Now that's what you call teamwork. As for Jewel, she's been playing with the boys since she was old enough to pick up a ball, she just wanted a chance to show them what she can do.

This article originally appeared on 06.17.19


Even when the competition is fierce, winning at friendship is more important than winning a game.

A viral video is making people feel alllll the good feelings, which we could frankly use more of these days.


Baseball pitcher Ty Koehn of Mounds View High School in Minnesota wound up his pitch. He hurled it to the batter, Jack Kocon of Totino-Grace High School, and it was a doozy. Kocon struck out, which meant Mounds View would advance to the state championship and Totino-Grace would go home.

Koehn's teammates started running out to the pitcher's mound to surround the hero who clinched the win. But Koehn chose to do something else first.

He put his celebration on hold, ran up to home plate, and wrapped his arms around Kocon. He gave the batter a long hug before walking him toward the edge of the field. Only then did he join his cheering teammates.

Koehn and Kocon have been friends and played baseball together since childhood, and that life-long friendship shines through in this touching moment.

No amount of excitement and pride trumps comforting a disappointed friend.

The video, shared by hitting coach Coach Lisle on Facebook, has gone viral because no matter who we are or where we come from, we all love seeing beautiful moments of pure humanity. As one commenter pointed out, we are all bigger than the moment, and this video exemplifies that fact.

For a high schooler who just won a big game to immediately go to his friend instead of his teammates shows that he understands what's truly most important. And for two young men to feel comfortable and secure enough to hug like that in front of a crowd speaks to how far we've come in embracing male sensitivity. Talk about a wonderful display of love, understanding, compassion, sportsmanship, and friendship all rolled into one.

Definitely one to show to the kids. Watch the heartwarming video here:

This HS pitcher struck out his childhood friend to advance to the ...



This HS pitcher struck out his childhood friend to advance to the state championship. Instead of celebrating with his teammates, he did something else:

On July 7th, Shohei Ohtani hit his 32nd home run of the year, a solo shot off of Boston Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodríguez, breaking Hideki Matsui's 17-year-old record for the most home runs hit in a season by a Japanese-born player. What is incredible about this hitting stat is that Ohtani broke the record in only 81 games — literally half an MLB season. Then add in the massive subplot that he is also the Angels' best pitcher and currently possesses an ERA+ of 132 (making him 32% better than the league average). When baseball has become exceptionally specialized, with players, coaches, and management becoming obsessed with the launch rate of swings and the spin rate of a pitch, Ohtani is breaking rational thinking by simply being the Modern Day Babe Ruth. His home runs get hit with such power and force; they are not only landing over the fence of ballparks but making an impact across the entire country and through continents.




Ohtani hits his 32nd homer of the season! (Sets new single-season record for Japanese-born player!)youtu.be



Baseball is known as the National Pastime. Yet, over the last decade, the game has become increasingly regional regarding general fan interest and rating viewership. While fans still care deeply about their home teams, the baseball megastar whom people tune into SportsCenter in the morning to see how they did the previous day, has seemingly gone away. Enter Ohtani, a man who can throw a baseball 100 Miles Per Hour and can hit home runs 450+ feet. Maybe the sneakiest detail about Ohtani is he is also one of the fastest baserunners in the MLB.

Ohtani is a must-watch player. His swing is like watching the Grim Reaper use his scythe to send a baseball to the nether realm. He sprints out of the box with every non-home run hit as if his life depends on it. Meanwhile, the ones that are going out of the park are known instantly by the sound of the bat. If you plan on taking the kids to the ballgame, make sure it is when the Angels are in town because they will get to see something special. Modern-day baseball loves to put players in boxes and label them as a known commodity, putting a somewhat limit on up-and-coming prospects. Ohtani's success will lead to many more players following in the trail of being two-way players over the next couple of decades. Undoubtedly, there is a ten-year-old out there watching what Ohtani is doing and they will try to be the next two-way success.


Shohei Ohtani Doing It All (Two Way Player) 2021 Highlightswww.youtube.com



Impact as a Japanese Player in America


After Ohtani broke Japanese Legend and former MLB All-Star Hideki Matsui's home-run record, Matsui came forth to heap praise on Ohtani as a once-in-a-generation talent. Even though Ohtani is a prodigal talent, he represents something bigger than himself for his country and culture. Japanese and Asian pitchers have integrated into Major League Baseball with more ease and less skepticism than hitters, specifically those whose specialty is power-hitting. Ohtani has crushed those notions. As time has gone on, he has adapted to the style of American pitchers and is obliterating anything in sight. More hitters from Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries may get signed to MLB teams due to Ohtani. Not to mention all the Asian-American youth in this country who have someone they can look up to. Jeremy Lin and Linsanity was a special moment in time that lasted a few weeks and had a monumental impact on so many Asian-American sports fans' lives. Ohtani is not Asian-American; however, he chose the Angels because he wanted to live in an area with people around him that felt like home. Imagine if Jeremy Lin had LeBron James or Kevin Durant's career? That is the potential for Shohei Ohtani.

Baseball is a game and watching Shohei Ohtani play is a unique experience. The biggest complaint about the game from outside viewers is that the game is slow and tedious. Ohtani is the opposite of that. Now more than ever, tune in to watch an Angels game because you might see something from Ohtani that you might never get to see in a baseball game again.

This article originally appeared on 04.12.21


In all sports, competition can get fierce, especially at the professional level. But two young baseball fans showed us this weekend that sports are really all about fun and connection first with a beautiful show of sportsmanship, kindness, and gratitude.

It happened at a game between division rivals, the Philadephia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves, at Truist Park in Atlanta Saturday night. Joshua, a young Phillies fan, happened to be sitting near the spot where Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman landed a home run in the top of the ninth. Joshua didn't quite manage to catch the ball in his glove, and it fell down into the bullpen. When someone grabbed it and tossed it up to him, he missed that catch, too—twice. Cameras caught him and his dad in a funny exchange, as Joshua got some light, good-natured ribbing from his old man.

But that wasn't the moment that really caught people's attention. Instead of keeping the home run ball for himself, Joshua took it over to a young Braves fan who was wearing a Freeman jersey and gave it to him. After excitedly showing the prized ball to his dad, the boy went over to thank Joshua and his dad.


Watch:

The whole exchange was just so wholesome, encapsulating how sports can—and should—bring people together. Even though they were rooting for opposite teams, the mutual respect and sportsmanship shown by these two boys is a lesson for all of us.

People loved seeing all of this play out on film, including the Phillies and Braves themselves. In fact, Freddie Freeman surprised Johsua before the following night's game by personally giving him a baseball signed by him and Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper.

Both teams shared their admiration for Joshua's generosity on social media.

Many commenters remarked that Joshua's father is clearly raising his son right, as is the dad of the kid who came over to say think you. Joshua's dad, James Scott, said that the action of his son was in "the DNA" of the family—to "pay it forward in love," as he wrote on Twitter. He referred to the exchange as "a great moment of humanity."

When we are immersed daily in stories of division, and as humanity works through the very real issues of all kinds that we have to fix to get past those divisions, it's wonderful to be reminded of the beautiful ways people can touch one another's lives in ways big and small. In this case, a mutual love of baseball, despite the on-field rivalry of the two teams, and the basic act of a kid brightening a stranger's day reassure us that the ills of society are not all that we are.

It's so easy to focus on the negative news, and it's so easy to get bogged down by the vast amount of work to be done to help us get to a place of true unity, equality, and justice. Seeing these small moments, these seemingly minor gestures, these glimpses of human connection help sustain us through that work.

It may have been a simple act, but the impact of it is profound. Thanks to these gentlemen for filling our hearts for a moment and reminding us what the best of us look like.