Monday, May 5, 2008

Latin Athletes Education Fund

Ninety-five percent of the Latin players who sign professional contracts in their teens never see the show. One man, however, is making sure that a handful of them don't leave the United States empty handed. From the NYT:
A virtually unknown stockbroker from San Jose, Calif., following his Peace Corps instincts, [Don] Odermann has spent 25 years as a silent baseball benefactor. He has arranged and financed scholarships for more than 100 young players from Caribbean countries to attend colleges in the United States. Eight players — from Venezuela, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico — are currently in the program after being identified and selected in tryouts by Odermann and his growing network of graduates.

Odermann’s self-run Latin Athletes Education Fund supplements partial athletic scholarships the players receive from their colleges, filling the financial gaps that otherwise would have kept them from accepting the scholarship offers. Ten graduates of his program have played in the major leagues, including the Mets’ Moises Alou. But a vast majority never do, learning that the education Odermann helped them obtain lasts longer than any playing career.

That's the kind of story that puts a spring in your step on a Monday morning.

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