The heart and soul of Jimmy Rollins

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Ya know that story where Babe Ruth hits a home run (three, actually) for a very sick young boy by the name of Johnny Sylvester? The boy was very ill and the Babe promised to hit him a home run. He did so (like I said, three times) and the boy started to get better.

Well, I was sitting here Saturday afternoon (June 9) waiting for the Philadelphia Phillies to take on the Baltimore Orioles, admittedly feeling sorry for myself. I had suffered through three surgeries in less than a month (might I add they’re three totally unrelated surgeries, each unpleasant as can be) and I had the genius idea of asking my favorite Phillie to hit a home run to lift my spirits. I mean, what could it hurt?

What?!? Did our beloved Phillies MVP shortstop Jimmy Rollins just, for all intents and purposes, “promise” to hit me a home run? Apparently so.

Let me tell you a little about Jimmy Rollins. Born in Oakland, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round — 46th overall — of the amateur draft in 1996. He didn’t wind up playing as a full-fledged Phillie til 2000, at the ripe old age of 21. The following year with the Phillies, he hit .274, played in the All Star game, and wound up with the most at-bats, triples, and stolen bases.

"Jimmy Rollins 2005 Phillies"

phillies nation

Jimmy Rollins would wind up playing in two more All Star games (in 2002 and 2005), being named the National League MVP in 2007, and receiving the Gold Glove in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In almost every season Rollins has been with the Phillies, he’s been in the top 5 for at-bats and in the top 10 for stolen bases.

He has been referred to as a “five-tool player,” meaning Rollins excels at hitting for batting average, hitting for power, base-running skills and speed, throwing ability, and fielding abilities. Those who’ve been labeled as “five-tool players” include Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., and Alex Rodriguez.

Jimmy Rollins, born James Calvin Rollins, was born in 1978. After spending much of his youth watching his mother play competitive fast-pitch softball, he developed both a cerebral approach to the game as well as “a near-photographic memory of games and at-bats and pitches” (ESPN, Tim Keown, 2009).

But there’s more to J-Roll, as Jimmy Rollins is affectionately known…

  • His childhood baseball hero is Rickey Henderson.
  • He appeared in several MC Hammer videos in the ’80s. True story.
  • He went to high school with pitcher Dontrelle Willis.
  • He is the cousin of former Major Leaguer Tony Tarasco.
  • He is the FIRST player in MLB history to get at least 200 hits, 15 triples, 25 homers, and 25 stolen bases in one season.
  • He holds the record for most at-bats in a season (716).
  • He has the longest hitting streak in Philadelphia Phillies history at 38 games (August 2005 to April 2006).
  • He owns his own music label.

Jimmy Rollins is very approachable and knows how to market himself. He created the Rollins Family Foundation (I love it when people who’ve been blessed with success give back) and participates in charity He is a regular presence on Twitter and has his own website,

But let’s get back to my story. Jimmy Rollins was batting in the third inning (he grounded out in the first). Here’s what happens…

"Phillies Shortstop Jimmy Rollins Batting"

"Philadelphia Phillies Shortstop Jimmy Rollins"

"Phillies Jimmy Rollins Hits Home Run"

That’s what it looks like when you hit a home run, folks…

"Jimmy Rollins Homer"

I could only wonder if Jimmy Rollins was thinking about that tweet as he rounded the bases…

"Phillies Jimmy Rollins Running Bases"

Because I was…you can bet your sweet, sweet patootie that I was. In fact, I was speechless, although I was texting, tweeting, and Facebooking my fingers off, telling everyone how Jimmy Rollins had done it — how he had “promised” (OK, that’s how I like to remember it) to hit a home run for me…and done it! This was one for the record books! Wasn’t it? I mean, it was, right?

Jimmy Rollins had three home runs going into this game, so it isn’t as though he hits the long ball like the Babe. This was — and is — a big deal. It was Rollins’ fourth homer of the season (two months in), and he predicted he would hit one for me, to lift my spirits.

"Phillies Jimmy Rollins Dugout"

I’ve always considered (and vehemently argued my point, mind you) Jimmy Rollins to be the heart and soul of the Phillies. It has to do with more than just having a good attitude, a smile on your face, and rallying your teammates (even if it is all the time). Being the heart and soul has a whole lot more to do with having heart and soul.

No matter what anyone says, I know Jimmy Rollins has heart and soul. The Phillies, their fans, the city of Philadelphia, and everyone who has been touched by Jimmy Rollins know that — and might just be a little better for it. I know I am.

Thanks, Jimmy. You made my day a little better. You can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.

Be sure to check out the Anthony SanFilippo article.

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  1. says

    Jimmy kept his word and did it! I bet he was thinking about his tweet to you as he ran the bases and crossed home plate. Way to go, J-Roll for the home run and making your day yesterday somethin’ really special for you. Get well soon, Kris.

  2. says

    Great article. Technology is amazing, it really has done so much for us. We can connect with our favorite, inspiring people. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us. It put a smile on my face.

  3. says

    What can I tell you after reading a story like this? I am speechless for the moment! If I tell you that this is the nicest story I have read in a long time, would you believe me?

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