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Hudson talks the talk,

walks the walk

  

By Gordy Jones

 

Flash back a few months to the Twins’ spring training camp in Fort Myers: One sunny afternoon, I was within an earshot of a man’s voice that at first sounded hauntingly familiar. Whoever he was — I couldn’t see at the moment — was speaking very quickly, and in nearly the same pitch as the late, great Kirby Puckett. As I turned around, I could see that the voice was that of Orlando Hudson.

Orlando was acquired during the winter from the Dodgers to fill a void in the Twins’ middle infield, and to add a little pop to their offense. So far he’s been everything they thought he would be, and more.

I met him just minutes after I first heard his voice. I was impressed with how cordial, energetic and positive the man is. He loves talking, and will talk to everyone around him. A Twins announcer recently said, “Orlando has never met a man he didn’t talk to.”

Since the start of the season, Orlando has played great, and I have heard many positive things about his life off the field. I heard that he and Denard Span were teaming up to host a bowling fundraiser for the Autism Society of Minnesota and Hudson’s own foundation, C.A.T.C.H., which also works with autistic children.

I wanted to find out more, so I asked Denard for a summary of what will be taking place. Denard put on his big, familiar grin and said, “Is it all right if I refer you to Orlando? I’d like you to ask him about the event. I’m actually riding his coattails on this one. Orlando knows a lot about charities, giving back and helping people. In fact — he runs his own foundation! I’m trying to learn from him…that’s what I want to do.”

The next time I saw Orlando, I asked him about the charity event. He was eager to talk about it, but was preparing for a game. He asked if we could connect after the game. It turned out Orlando was the hero of that game (although he later stated that there were nine heroes playing on his team).

After the game I saw the Twins’ media guy run over and tell Orlando they were waiting for him to do a live TV interview. But he is such a standup guy, he replied that he had promised he would talk to me about his event, and that TV would have to wait. Not wanting to make waves with the media department, I quickly let Hudson know that I understood, and that I was in no hurry. Within minutes, he returned from his TV interview and we talked.

I asked him about his zest for life, meeting people, and talking to everyone. “You’ve got to have fun,” he replied. “God gave me the talent to play this great game. This game can be so frustrating when things aren’t going well. At times it can be difficult to play this game, but if you talk to everyone, and you have fun, it helps you to keep your composure. I knew a lot of these guys before I came here. I’ve played with some of them before. I even came up in the minors with some of them. We do many things for each other. We do many things for charity together, so we definitely get to know each other instead of just playing together, and we get to meet other people, too. But the guys on this team are some of the greatest in the game; we get along so well, I just like to talk with them. I like to make them feel good.”

I asked him about his charity event. “Yes, July 29, we have a bowling event at Brunswick Bowl in Brooklyn Park. It’s for autism! We are going to raise money for autism so they can enjoy life like everybody else. It is such a blessing that God gave me the opportunity to play this great game and the ability to make money and help others.”

I told him what Denard had to say about trying to learn from him, and he replied, “Oh yes, I’m trying to teach him all that I can. He is learning, and he asks questions. He’s a young buck, but he’s a good one!”

The very next day, Hudson and his young protégé Span brought a chill to 40,000 fans and their teammates when they collided during the last play of a victory over the Texas Rangers. Hudson was chasing a pop fly toward center as Span came in and ended up catching the ball, but also catching Hudson’s surgically repaired wrist as they were both running full speed. Upon impact they went flying in opposite directions and landed flat on the turf where they lay stunned and in pain for a few moments. Silence fell on Target Field as no one celebrated the win; they were more concerned about the health of their guys. Luckily there were no serious injuries.

But the night I talked to Orlando, he would have chatted all night. In fact, our interview ended when the Twins director of communications found us, and told Orlando he was late, and he was supposed to be in the clubhouse. Hudson apologized, shook my hand and walked away, talking his fast talk to the director. As they walked away, Orlando shook hands with security people and exchanged quick interjections. I could hear Orlando Hudson continue to talk, even after he was out of sight. But now I recognize the voice.

To find out more about Denard’s and Orlando’s Twins & Pins Charity Bowling Classic, call 651-343-4239

 

Check out Gordy’s book at http://www.baseballguy.org. Gordy can be reached at gejones1@aol.com.