Scott Rolen is gone from the Cincinnati Reds, but not forgotten — especially to some kids and their parents around Bloomington and southern Indiana.
Rolen surfaced Friday night at Wright State University’s First Pitch baseball banquet at the Nutter Center and gave a dazzling speech focused on his charity work — The Enis Furley Foundation, named after his dog. And the foundation has a retreat. Camp Emma Lou, named after another family dog, near Bloomington.
The Enis Furley Foundation’s mission is, “To bring smiles to the faces of children and their families who are dealing with an illness (cancer, leukemia), hardships or other special needs.” And Camp Emma Lou, on Lake Monroe, provides a recreational retreat for children and their families and Rolen wants to help brighten children’s lives and renew family ties and create new friendships among people dealing with similar situations.” Rolen has a simple goal: “We want to make children smile.”
TO THOSE WHO know Rolen it is no surprise that he is now dedicating his life to helping children with major medical and physical problems.
Rolen was a leader, the last real leader to grace the Reds clubhouse and he has been missed since he struck out to end the 2012 playoffs, ending the Reds season. It was his last major-league at-bat, It would have been more fitting if he had hit a home run because Rolen’s life has been a home run, a life dedicating to giving of himself, first to helping other baseball players and now to helping children and their families.
Rolen’s message Friday night was spiced with humor, but passionate about his mission.
ROLEN BEGAN HIS speech by acting as if he is just another dumb jock. He made a big production out of tapping the microphone to see if it was on, then rattling papers into the microphone as if readying himself to read his speech. Then he began: “Thank…you…for…having…me…here…to..night. It…is…an…honor…to…be..here. I…used…to…play…baseball…and…lift…heavy…weights.” It brought the house down. After the laughter and applause subsided, he said, “I…wrote…that…myself.” Then he got serious.
“Where I am in my life right now is the Enis Furley Foundation,” he said. “I have a 10-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son so I still spend a lot of time on baseball fields and soccer fields. I’m just trying to see where I fit in with youth sports. I’ve challenged myself on that front.
“I hear winning, winning at all costs and I hear a lot about losing,” he said. “I know a little about winning and a hell of a lot about losing. That’s not genuine to me. I’ve had a little failure, striking out to end the 2012 playoffs in my last career at-bat.”
Those are the words he says he hears a lot around youth sports, at an early age, he said. “I hear result words. I hear about home runs and doubles and Sabremetrics, which is a cuss word. What I’m not hearing are words about sportsmanship, humility, hard work and inspiration and the value of good teamwork and the word respect. We are just too result-oriented.”
ABOUT LEADERSHIP, Rolen said the term is used too loosely and said, “Hitler was a leader. Leadership can be a dangerous word.”
Rolen said that’s what his foundation is all about, “Putting together building blocks toward leadership — sportsmanship, humility, inspiration, teamwork, fundamentals. Those are great words, process words I’m trying to convey.”
There was no doubt that Rolen was a leader and he was asked to be a leader when Reds general manager Walt Jocketty acquired him from the Reds in 2010.
“LEADERSHIP IS PUT on me a lot and I don’t know if it is deserved (it most assuredly is),” he said. “I don’t have the answer. Walt Jocketty is like a dad to me and we were together with the St. Louis Cardinals. Then he brought me to the Reds. I’m not a huge vocal guy, I like to lead by example. Walt said to me after the trade, ‘Listen, we have some good players and without a doubt some talent. We need to create a culture that has been lacking here. I want you to go out of your comfort zone and look through the clubhouse and see what you see. I want you to try to be more vocal than you have in the past,’
“Fair enough, Walt,” said Rolen. “I won’t say the ship was going in the wrong direction. The team had a lot of veterans and we tried to talk to the guys about working hard and getting into the batting cage.
“We wanted them to get out of the damn gym and away from the weights,” Rolean added. “If you strikeout 200 times, you shouldn’t be saying, ‘I’m going to go bench press.’ No, let’s go in the batting cage because you suck. Let’s go hit.”
There is no doubt, the Cincinnati Reds miss a Scott Rolen-type in the clubhouse right now and Jocketty probably needs to go looking for another one, if one exists.
THE REAL McCOY, my book due to be released March 16, can be pre-ordred on Amazon.com or from Orange Frazer Press at www.orangefrazer.com (937-382-3196).
Many book signings are planned and so far we have five:
—March 23, Cox International Airport Bookstore, 9-noon.
—March 31, Books & Company, The Green, Kettering, 7 p.m.
—April 4, New & Old Book Store, Englewood, 1 to 3).
—April 9, Jo-Beth Book Store, Hyde Park, Cincinnati, 7 to 9.
—April 23, Mayflower Arts Center, Troy Square, 7-9.
There will be more and I will keep you informed.