By Ken Reed
Last week, 31-year-old Wynton Bernard finally got the news he’d been waiting 11 years to hear: He was going to the big leagues.
The Colorado Rockies called up Bernard from their AAA farm team, the Albuquerque Isotopes, last week. It was a mountaintop moment for Bernard after a long, hard, winding climb that involved numerous minor league stops along the way, including playing for several international and independent teams.
It was a popular move to everyone who knows Bernard thanks to his relentlessly positive attitude, strong work ethic and team-first approach.
“What I saw today made this the best day of my coaching career,” said Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer.
“What I witnessed in a locker room today, the reaction of Wynton, the reaction of his teammates, it just made … everything that you do worthwhile to see somebody like Wynton, who has been grinding in the minor leagues for 11 years, who does everything the right way … It’s something that we can all learn from.
“And to see grown men cry – men who have children – to hear that Wynton Bernard is called up and to see tears flow in a locker room by Wynton and his teammates … That’s just special, man.”
The call-up certainly wasn’t a gratuitous handout to a good soldier either; Bernard earned it. He was hitting .325 this season in 87 games for the Isotopes with career bests in homers (17) and RBIs (74) to go with 26 steals and some of the most consistently high-level defense in center field in the Pacific Coast League, where he was named the July Player of the Month.
“He’s done everything he can do,” said Rockies Director of Player Development Chris Forbes. “… He’s done a great job on both sides of the ball, in the clubhouse. I mean, he’s a high character kid. He’s everything you want in a player.”
Bernard was overcome with emotion when he heard the news.
“Schaeffer goes, ‘After eleven, hard minor league seasons, Wynton Bernard’s going to the Show,’” said Bernard, his voice rising with excitement the day after he got the news. “I was like, just shaking, just dreaming. The emotions, it’s indescribable.” (Watching Bernard call his Mom with the news will bring a tear to the eye of everyone but the most cynical of human beings.)
It’s a fun story whenever a long-time minor league player gets called up to The Show, but what made the Bernard story even more special was the kind of human being Bernard is and what a great teammate he’s been everywhere he’s played.
“He’s a great example for kids all around the country – for baseball players everywhere,” Schaeffer said. “If you persevere, anything can happen.”
Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families. Linda writes extensively about how youth sports can hijack families, and family outings, non-sports activities and bonding time are lost in the pursuit of the next club team game or travel tournament.
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Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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