How do you make it into the Little League Baseball Hall of Fame? Bobby Malouin, a 13-year-old from Coventry, Rhode Island, can tell you that being a hall-of-famer isn't always about running the fastest, hitting the hardest, or scoring the most runs.
"During the first inning of the first game of the season, I was running to catch a foul ball when SLAM! I ran into my team's catcher, and broke my arm in two places." The injury put Bobby on the disabled list for half the season!
Bobby's been a baseball player since he began playing t-ball at six-years-old, so sitting the bench made him feel "rotten,...a little bit left out, and a little bit mad in a way, especially when my team was getting really beaten." He says, "I could have helped out. I could have been part of that. I could have had some of the grief too."
But what did he do instead? Bobby attended every game and practice, in uniform, to cheer his teammates on. He even helped out by raking the infield and carrying bags and equipment. Why? "It's fun to be there," he answers. Bobby modestly claims that his teammates "didn't really think much about it," but later admits that they were "glad for somebody to help them, somebody else watching them play."
After Bobby returned to baseball, his hometown teams and coaches voted to give him the local Sportsmanship Award. Later that summer, he received a letter from Little League headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania Bobby had won the 2001 Little League Good Sport of the Year award! He didn't even know that he'd been nominated!
How did he feel? "Honored. Happy. Very proud," he says, "Why me out of the whole country?" The application that his local Little League president submitted had the answer, stating that "his positive attitude and dedication has been inspiring to his own team and the other teams as well. He has become a role model for what being a 'Good Sport' is all about and an asset to his team in ways he never imagined."
What is being a "good sport" all about?
According to the Little League, good sports are people "who exhibit...character, courage, and loyalty...[They] learn what it means to truly be part of a team and conduct themselves according to the principles of fair play and good sportsmanship."
Bobby says it means that "you treat other people fairly, with respect, courtesy. It means you help others. It means giving all you have. Not being a 'sore' loser. Not being really down on yourself, and also knowing that you helped out the team." He adds, "I think that it's important to do. If you're a good sport, you're friends. If you're not, your team falls apart." Bobby also says that his coach and the local League president stress the importance of being a good sport to all players.
The Little League sent Bobby and his whole family to Williamsport to attend the Little League World Series, and treated them to a hotel stay, meals, and more. They even held a special breakfast ceremony with pitching great Orel Hershiser and the parents of star outfielder Carlos Delgados to honor Bobby and other Little League award winners. And best of all, they put his picture in the Little League Hall of Fame!
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