▲ Former Major League Baseball player and potential future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin coaches Jeju during a baseball camp, last week. Photo courtesy Jejusori, Heo Ji Hoon
Former Major League Baseball player, and potential future Hall of Famer, Barry Larkin and former minor leaguer Joe Logan made Jeju one stop on a tour of Korea as Sports Envoys representing the SportsUnited Office of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The trip lasted six days and also included stops in Seoul and Gwangju. Larkin and Logan have represented the U.S. Embassy in this capacity on two other occasions, visiting Colombia and Taiwan together.
After conducting a clinic with local youngsters Larkin and Logan sat down at Eouneul, a restaurant commended for its island specialties, to chat with a group of local reporters.
Arriving a couple of minutes late, neither athlete even had the chance to change out of the Team USA baseball gear that they had been wearing at the clinic. Not a minute was spared as they rushed into the restaurant, sat down, and began to field questions.
Fresh from coaching, it was clear that Larkin, despite being 5 days into a busy schedule, was energized after working with the kids. When asked about the program, he gave a brief explanation and noted that the clinics were about lessons on and off the field.
Larkin noted that he is multiethnic and that one of the things he aimed to do was work with kids who come from multi-cultural backgrounds to help them build self confidence through sports. Citing his experience of being singled out for his mixed race as a child, Larkin said that he knows that it is not easy to be different. He noted that being part of a team can help kids overcome the obstacles multicultural children face. He said that kids, as part of a team, learn to work together and bond over a common goal.
Furthermore, Larkin said that he told the kids “baseball is a game of failure. You can fail seven out of 10 times and still be one of the best players in the world.” He reminded them that playing baseball and learning such lessons can help one become more accepting of failure and resilient because of it.
Larkin is a living example of his advice. Despite being considered one of the greatest shortstops of all time, Larkin failed to be elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on his first two attempts. Still, Barry is optimistic and hopes that the next Hall of Fame class will include him.
Logan on the other hand, was quiet for most of the meal until he tried some kimchi. Unlike almost every other foreigner dining at a Korean restaurant, no one warned him that kimchi is spicy. “Whoa, that stuff has got some pop!” he exclaimed after sampling Korea’s omnipresent side dish.
When asked why he participates in these programs, Larkin simply replied “I want to make the world a better place before I die.” There is little doubt that Larkin has already done that. In addition to winning the World Series in 1990, three Gold Gloves, and being named to the all star team 12 times, Larkin also won the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”
Even from the short lunch, it was clear that Logan and Larkin are genuine guys who have not let the fame and fortune of professional sports go to their heads.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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