by Coach Tom
(Hanoi, Hawaii)

Four years ago at a school playground in Hanoi, kids talked about an eight-year old kid named Trung Hieu that was very good at catching and throwing. The kids at the school that were on the Hanoi Capitals Pony League team told their coaches, and said the coaches should get the boy out for the Capitals. The team mom then asked the school for Trung Hieu’s phone number, and she called his dad and invited the son to join the baseball team. Turns out, there were two kids in the school named Trung Hieu, and the school gave the team mom the number of the wrong kid! The one that got called had never heard about baseball or played it, but came to the baseball practice field at Xuan Dinh outside Hanoi that weekend anyways. He liked it, and never missed a practice for the next three years. He started out as a catcher, but learned pitcher, 1st base, 3rd base and outfield. He did long toss diligently, always trying to see how far he could throw a baseball.

Last year, when interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, a baseball development official for Major League Baseball said there was an 11-year old Vietnamese boy that he saw in Hanoi that was as good as any 11-year old in the world. Later that summer, that boy hit over .400 in the Pony Asia Pacific Zone Bronco Championships in Seoul, Korea (for 11 and 12 year olds), and played 1st base without an error. Last weekend as a 12-year old he 1-hit the Pony Division (U-14) team of the Japan School of Hanoi with his arm that can throw about a 70 MPH fastball and throw 65 yard long toss, and he also drove in two runs on 2-2 hitting to lead his team to victory. He has already played in baseball tournaments in Korea, United States, Singapore, Indonesia, and Taiwan, made friends with kids from nearly 15 nations, and his team finished top among Southeast Asia countries in Pony Baseball in 2011. His name is Trung Hieu, but he was the wrong Trung Hieu.

No, in this case, the wrong player turned out to be the RIGHT player through hard work, and talent that was not so apparent at first glance. So, if you ever get a chance, you better take it. The kid the team mom was supposed to call, she did reach his parents eventually, but unfortuanately he quit after a couple practices – he was a good player and a good kid, but had other interests. This is a good lesson for coaches — you never know who will be your top players, so give everyone a chance — everyone deserves a chance. Also, a good lesson for parents, look for good chances for your kids and be open minded to let your kids try something new, like the wrong Trung Hieu’s dad did. Sage, veteran coach Phil Rognier of the Seattle Klouters who has worked with Hanoi Pony League over the years tells all his players to remember, and signs every letter or email: “GAGPTH” (it stands for “Get a Good Pitch to Hit”). It means in all facets of life, try to pick the good things that come your way, and take the opportunity. Trung Hieu and his dad saw that good pitch, and they hit it out of the park.