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Teaching the game of life

July 13, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN

Rapport is a really weird word to say, according to Blake Lyles.

Lyles, 12, belongs to the Boys & Girls Club that visited the Hagerstown Suns' ballpark Wednesday afternoon as part of the educational "Ballfields and Boardrooms" program initiated by the New York Mets organization.

Local professionals and businessmen teamed up with Suns players to give presentations to about 45 children. Rapport, teamwork, communication and ethics were covered in four separate sessions.

Blake's comment about rapport sounding "weird" came after Suns pitcher Jon Niese and Herald-Mail sportswriter Bob Parasiliti explained that it means treating people the way you would want to be treated.

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The two used their relationship, as a sportswriter and his subject, to explain the abstract concept.

"I have to keep the right mind and say the right thing, to keep that good rapport," Niese said.

"It's very fun to learn about communications and teamwork and stuff because I play baseball, too," Blake said.

Effective communication was demonstrated by Tom Riford, president of Hagerstown's convention and visitors bureau, using the telephone game. A message was whispered from ear to ear until "purple" became "bubble" and "bubba."

Katie O'Bryan, 9, thought it was fun to see how the players communicate on the field using special signals, which Suns infielders Jose Castro and Hector Pellot demonstrated.

"It's not about us, it's about the kids. Anything we can do to make their day a little better," said Jeff Landing, who pitches for the Suns. Landing used baseball and the hit reality TV show "American Idol" as examples of teamwork.

"On American Idol, you mainly see the singer, but there's also the band, camera people, lighting, stage people all working together to provide a good-quality TV show," he said.

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