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Twins prospect Royce Lewis, Torii Hunter have known each other for years … without knowing it

first_imgThe faces changed over the years – Howie Kendrick, Jered Weaver, Torii Hunter – but a baseball player’s quest for a good, late meal did not. It helped that visiting teams often stayed at the Westin Hotel down the street from Morton’s. Lewis said he gathered a decent collection of autographs over the years, something he could give his son one day.Years later, Lewis decided to strike out on his own. He opened his first Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar in Tustin in 2007. A third location opened its doors in La Jolla five months ago. Business is good. That ought to please Weaver and Erstad, whom Lewis said helped with his initial investment.Lewis, a former football wide receiver at Fullerton Junior College and Chico State, said he told his family that famous athletes sometimes stopped in for a meal. Hunter, a frequent diner during his years with the Angels (2008-12), just happened to be one of his oldest son’s favorite players. But if William Lewis specifically mentioned getting to know Hunter, Royce Lewis doesn’t remember.“(Hunter) gave my dad his phone number but he kept it real low-key,” Royce said. “He never told me (Hunter) was in his phone contacts. I’d ask him, ‘did you see him hit a home run?’ He’d say, ‘yeah it was cool.’”Royce Lewis turned into a pretty good baseball player himself. In four years at JSerra Catholic High, his team won three Trinity League championships. In 2016, Lewis won a gold medal with the USA Baseball 18U National Team. Pick an individual award given to the best baseball players in Southern California; Lewis probably won it. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error In June 2017, the Minnesota Twins held the first overall pick in the amateur draft. Hunter was nearly two years into his retirement and a special advisor to the Twins’ front office. He was the perfect bridge from chief baseball officer Thad Levine and General Manager Derek Falvey to whichever young man heard his name called atop the draft.Lewis, a shortstop, was the Twins’ choice at number 1. That was the day he remembers his father breaking the news: oh yeah, by the way, I’ve known Torii Hunter for years.That was the day William Lewis broke the news to Hunter: oh yeah, by the way, you just drafted my son.Hunter “was just surprised that I didn’t tell him,” William Lewis said. “Then he was happy for me. He said, ‘you didn’t tell me?’ I said I’m not going to talk about my kid who’s 10 years old when I met him. That’s how long ago it was.”Flash forward a year. Royce Lewis said he and Hunter have their own relationship now. After last season ended, Lewis spent about a week with Hunter at his home in Dallas. Just like his father, Royce Lewis didn’t always talk about baseball with Hunter: “Tutoring. Life skills. He taught me how to live my life, do it the right way.”The early reviews on Lewis the baseball player are good. He has a .302 batting average for the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels, the Twins’ Class-A affiliate. Tuesday, he played in the Midwest League All-Star Game. William Lewis flew out for the occasion. Hunter was there, too. Royce Lewis went 1 for 2 with a single and a stolen base.The off-the-field reviews on Lewis are very similar to the off-the-field reviews of Hunter.“He’s such a good kid, he doesn’t want to disappoint anyone,” said Jeremy Zoll, the Twins’ director of minor league operations. “That comes in the form of answering all the fan mail, reading every letter, signing for the fans, saying yes to the interview requests. That’s different than being a high school player in Orange County, even with all the attention that comes with that. Toby Gardenhire (the Kernels’ manager) is trying to help him with it.”If there is a moral to this story, it’s that in baseball, it isn’t always about who you know.William Lewis had plenty of opportunities to share glowing reviews of his teenage son’s baseball career with the professional athletes who ate at his restaurant. He didn’t. He didn’t want to. His son got a $6.725 million signing bonus anyway.With Hunter, “we just talked about family, the kids, things like this – normal conversation, you know – and just feeding him a good meal,” William Lewis said. “If he wants a nice glass of wine, he knows where to go.”center_img As the Morton’s Steakhouse in South Coast Plaza wound down for the night, William Lewis was still pouring wine. A restaurateur’s hours are long, the perks often subtle.One subtle perk: it isn’t easy for a ballplayer to get clean, change his clothes, leave Angel Stadium after the final out, and still have time to eat a steak and drink a glass of wine. All of Orange County closes shop too soon, or at least it did back then, Lewis said. He began as a sommelier at Morton’s when Manager Terry Collins wore a pinstriped periwinkle jersey and Gary Disarcina, Dave Hollins, Troy Glaus and Darin Erstad were the big names in town. He saw them often.“They would call me,” Lewis recalled. “That’s how they got to know me because I would be open a little bit later. They would just give me a quick call. … We could take care of the guys, they would be in there for the most part by themselves. There wouldn’t be fans bugging them. They could have a nice dinner. They could just be guys eating their dinner, and they would get out of there.”As Lewis poured the wine – he was Morton’s sommelier and assistant general manager – he did not discuss baseball. Win or lose, the conversation was the same. How’s your wife? How are the kids? How’s the wine?last_img read more

“US Exchange Programs Alumni Not Networking”

first_imgFellows who participated in the recent Alumni Conference in Monrovia A beneficiary of United States exchange programs says the lack of networking among US exchange programs alumni in Liberia is hindering the achievement of the needed impact.Hundreds of Liberians have benefited from educational programs, both long-term, and short-term, in the United States with the aim of returning to impact their communities in various ways.Some major programs that have taken a lot of Liberians to the United States for studies in different fields of disciplines, include the International Visiting Leadership Program (IVLP), the Young African Leaders Initiative (now the Mandela Washington Fellowship), Hubert Humphrey Program, Community Solution Program, FullBright and other miscellaneous programs for capacity-building and on-the-sight experience.These programs educate beneficiaries in health, education, social work, entrepreneurship and communication to return to their respective countries.Eddie Jarwolo, the founder and executive director of the National Youth Movement for Transparent Election (NYMOTE), told the Daily Observer at the end of the US Embassy organized Alumni Conference on April 21, that while individual alums (fellows), including him, are making strides to impact their communities, there is a shortcoming in terms of network among fellows.Jarwolo has been privileged to participate in four of the exchange programs, including Community Solution and the International Visiting Leadership Program (IVLP).He added, “today’s program is good and it brings us to a sense of networking; there are some fellows coming after us who we do not know, and it is good that we know one another in order to network and make more impact in society.”According to Jarwolo, fellows returning from the US exchange programs are not documenting activities they are involved with here, something he said is arising from poor networking.“We are not networking; we do not have a strong network and no one is willing to play a strong leadership role to put the group together,” Jarwolo said.This is the second time that the US Embassy Public Affairs Department has called an alumni conference to get beneficiaries acquainted with one another and form networking groups to make a better use of what they learned at various fellowship programs in the United States.It can be recalled on August 8, 2017, the first alumni conference was called at a resort in Monrovia where the second conference this year was also held.The purpose is to create a sense of networking, undergo refreshing lectures on topics of interest, and to share together impacts fellows are making in their respective communities.A 2016 Fellow of YALI, Josephine Sellie-Drobia said since she returned to Liberia, she has been engaged in mentoring teenage girls who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and unwanted pregnancy.Mrs. Drobia’s engagement in this social work is making an impact despite challenges and constraints associated with dealing with such a group of people in a society.She said she has observed that mothers do not keep a proper watch on their girls, but warned them that “in case you get your bastard belly (pregnancy), you will get out of my house.”This, according to her, is not solving the problem, and that is one reason she is prioritizing teenage girls in her engagement.United States Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elder reminded participants that only Liberians have the potential to change their country and not the average Americans who come here.She told the fellows that she was also privileged to participate in exchange programs in other countries, and it opened her mind to do other things differently than the usual way.She referenced entrepreneurship as an engine of growth for the economy and also health and education as two key foundations on which any nation can be built.Amb. Elder also stressed the need for professionalizing the press because, by that, she said society will be stable.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more