With the help of Pacific Funding Group and BDS Plumbing, More Than a Game and the Walnut Creek Crawdads hosted a free baseball clinic and field restoration at Nichol Park Field #1 in Richmond, California. Kids from the Richmond Little League & Jr. Giants came out to participate in the event. Each child that attended received a new Nike belt provided by Lids and an EvoShield arm sleeve. The Crawdad players led the children in an instructional clinic, breaking them up into 3 teaching stations covering catching/throwing, batting and base running. While the players were leading drills, the coaches went to work restore the field. They revitalized the field by clearing weeds and unwanted growth from the infield. During the closing ceremonies, each Crawdad gave out an award to a child that made an impact on them. Another GREAT Community Outreach Day by More Than a Game!
At the age of 23, Joey Lewis, has transformed his life through More than a Game. Joey has played on both Crawdads collegiate summer baseball teams, in Phenix City, Alabama and Walnut Creek, California, gone on service trips to Panama, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, and not to mention, whiles others his age might struggle with the vicissitudes of being in their early twenties, Joey took bold leap and moved to Colombia to build a baseball program and learn Spanish.
Having been involved with the Crawdads organizations, and More Than A Game, for going on 4 years, Joey has gained values that will stick with him forever. “I’ve always loved baseball and once had professional dreams. Now that my career has ended, I am fully involved with More Than a Game” said Joey. “More Than a Game gave me something to rely on when I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It continues to humble me and help me grow as a person” continued Joey, “More Than a Game has given me a greater appreciation for life and I am more grateful for the trips and projects I’ve been able to experience.”
In Colombia Joey was able to work with the baseball players of Medellin and Envigado. Lending guidance to the Envigado Cubs, He even helped make two young men's dream come true, providing them with the opportunity of going to the United States to play summer baseball for the Phenix City and Walnut Creek Crawdads teams. “This was a great opportunity to create lifelong friends and serve others” stated Joey. “This was the turning point in my life when my baseball career was over.”
The inspiration behind Joey’s decision to remain in Colombia stems from his past experience with More Than a Game, and its founder, Marshall Murray. “The Panama trip was my first real service experience” said Joey. “It inspired me to keep serving by bringing me out of my comfort zone and allowing me to help those in need. I plan to carry this on and expand the game of baseball wherever I go.”
While Joey helped grow the game of baseball in Colombia and learned a new language, he is also enthusiastic about his future. This fall he will begin law school at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He plans to continue contributing with More Than A Game. He currently has a community outreach projects in Columbus, Georgia, and Wichita Falls, Texas, that will provide these communities free instruction, equipment and field restoration. But for this man there is always more...He plans to create a prominent presence with MTAG in Pittsburgh. Proving he really has become a transformational figure!
If you are a baseball fan, chances are you have seen this guy on television. He is a member of the National Champion runner-up Arizona Wildcats baseball team, and considered by many a reason Arizona got so far this season.
For this to unfold lets take this back a better part of a decade, to 2009. On a cold day in January the Walnut Creek Bulldawgs, a competitive 14u travel-ball team hoisted a USSSA championship trophy. Head Coach, Andy Tarpley raised his index finger in the air, as if to touch a hot stove, and said "Sawyer, psssss, muy caliente." That weekend Sawyer put on a hitting display going 10-12 at the plate, leading the Bulldawgs to victory. From that moment we knew that this baby faced, 100 pound boy would do great things as a man.
In his transition from boy to man, Sawyer started all four years at Las Lomas high school, for then Head Coach John Jones. At Las Lomas Sawyer set the school record for hits, batted .300, .330, .460 and .410 respectively throughout the years. Four times he was an All-Academic selection, two times a DFAL All-league player and Senior year he won the DFAL Gold Glove award. In response, Coach Jones a former professional baseball player himself, to what makes Sawyer a great ball player, said "Sawyer is the most intense baseball guy, he loves the game and will do anything for it."
Now a man, this past summer Sawyer lead a group of his friends, teammates and coaches on a baseball service trip to Medellin, Colombia with More Than a Game. It was here where we got to see first hand Sawyer's ability to keep things relaxed and fun while still accomplishing what we set forth to do. His leadership did not go unnoticed. Jonathan Giles, of Incolr | Visual Storytellers, a creative marketing agency and short film storyteller, instantly recognised Sawyer's talent and made him the basis of his of short film documentary. For those of you who have had the chance to see the work that Jonathan Giles produces, it is not hard to tell that he is the best at what he does. Giving the two talents the a mutual respect and admiration for one another. Giles had become an inspiration to Sawyer's filmmaking. "Being able to meet Jonathan, has had a huge impact on my career." Sawyer and Giles are still in contact with each other, offering advice on equipment, technology and creativity.
Ok so hopefully that paints a picture of this man. Now it is no coincidence that this standout baseball player and all around great human being found himself on the University of Arizona baseball team, playing Pac-12 baseball and fulfilling, not only his dream to go to the College World Series as a player, but anyone's who has ever played baseball. At Arizona, however his roll of standout player has been over shadowed by the talented Wildcat team, producing 6 draft picks in the 2016 MLB Draft. But this has not stopped him from being a contributor to the teams success. You might have noticed a greasy haired, fully bearded man spraying water on his teammate or shampooing hair, keeping the team loose and having fun. "We make sure that we win," Sawyer said, when asked about your roll in the dugout. "The dugout is our realm, it's the most fun place in the world." If you didn't notice that, perhaps you had the chance to see one of the creative videos Sawyer produced. "The filming that we did throughout the year makes people see how much fun we are having and I had so much fun doing that."
All of these that Sawyer does outside the lines is what bring people together. And when you can bring people together in a positive way there is no limit to what you can accomplish. "Sawyer is all about the team and never about himself," Said Coach Jones. This is what makes him a natural leader and a true winner that we should all aspire to be.
Ronaldo Romero has always dreamed of one thing, to play baseball in America...."I always wanted to be here on a scholarship and have this opportunity," Romero said. "It passed through my mind but I never thought it would happen."
But it did. All thanks to "More Than A Game". The non-profit group has brought Romero to Phenix City where the Crawdads are giving him the chance to play baseball.
"I thank God so much and I also say to God that I was looking for this and he gave me the opportunity and More Than A Game gave me the opportunity to bring me here and give everything I had," Romero said.
Romero is a pitcher for the Crawdads and is hoping to get a scholarship so he can attend college and play baseball. Just like his friend Abelardo Paz. He's a teen also from Colombia who is currently playing at a community college in California. He never wouldn't gotten this chance if it weren't for More Than A Game.
"In my country, the most important sport is soccer and almost nobody plays baseball there," Paz said. "Just to be here and play in the United States playing summer ball, it's amazing."
The two players have been adjusting to baseball life in the United States. They're slowly learning the culture, the language, and the sport.
"I think we provided them the opportunity to live out a dream," said Crawdads general manager, Josh McConnell. "A dream of playing collegiate baseball a dream of playing at the next level and providing the Phenix City Crawdads two phenomenal baseball players, but most importantly two phenomenal human beings."
Romero and Paz aren't the only ones who are living out a dream. Amaury Telemaco Junior is from the Dominican Republic. He's been brought to Phenix City to enroll at Glenwood high school where he'll be getting an education and playing baseball with the state championship Gators this spring.
"This is my first step to grow, to be tough mentally and be a best person," Telemaco said.
Telemaco has baseball in his blood. His father played in the major leagues from 1996-2005 and currently coaches baseball in the Dominican Republic. He's looking to continue the tradition his father set.
"He has been my role model and that's all I want to do," he said.
To play a sport they all love and they're doing it because of a non-profit group that truly brings out the meaning of it being more than a game.
Its been almost 4 years since MTAG first stepped foot in Bongo, a small village located in the northern provence of Chiriqui, Panama. Since 2012 MTAG has maintained its presence in Bongo. Initially as a community service project with Glenwood High School, Smiths, Alabama; the group helped build vegetable gardens for the community, held several baseball clinics with games and climbed(13hours) to the top of Volcan Baru, a peak 11,400 ft and the tallest mountain in Panama. Over the years MTAG has returned to Bongo to help build a baseball field and start an after school baseball program.
July 9th, MTAG is headed back to Bongo. There will be several familiar faces going on the trip, some headed back to Bongo for their 3rd and 4th time, for some it will be their first experience. The group plans to continue the work that has been started, look for areas that need influence and of course peak Volcan Baru!
More Than a Game and the Walnut Creek Crawdads partnered with Phillips 66 to host a free baseball clinic and field restoration at Lefty Gomez Field in Rodeo, California, also deemed Baseball Town USA. Over sixty kids from Rodeo Baseball Association came out to participate in the clinic. Each kid that showed up received a new EvoShield arm sleeve and a Nike belt provided by Lids. The Walnut Creek Crawdads led the children in an instructional clinic, teaching and reinforcing the basics of the game such as catching, throwing, and batting. Then the kids split up into teams playing games and other competitions. While some Crawdads were leading drills, others were helping restore the fields. With the help of Turface Athletics we were able to restore the batters box on Lefty Gomez Field, and we revitalized the 5-6 year-old field adding field conditioner and clearing weeds. At the end of the clinic we had each Crawdad give an award to a player that impacted them in someway. It was a special moment watching our players become mentors to the younger players. With over one hundred people going home with smiles on their faces, it was a truly beautiful day at Lefty Gomez Field.