From Little League to the Pros
Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson was honored as "Sports Person of the Year" by the Atlanta Sports Council at the Atlanta Sports Awards held this past Monday, March 8, 2010 at the Fox Theatre. This award honors the metro Atlanta athlete or coach who is actively involved in the community and epitomizes the highest standards for leadership, sportsmanship and integrity. Hudson was born in Columbus. He and his two brothers, Ronnie and Keith, were raised in nearby Phenix City, Alabama. Tim met his wife Kim while they were students at Auburn University. They have two daughters, Kennedie and Tess, and one son, Kade, and currently live in Peachtree City.
In 2009, Tim was honored for the fourth straight year as the Atlanta Braves recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award that recognizes those players who best exemplify the game of baseball through sportsmanship, community involvement, and positive contributions to their teams. Tim also received this award as a player for the Oakland A’s in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. It seemed appropriate for Macaroni Kid to interview him about his experience with baseball growing up in Georgia, his charitable foundation here in Atlanta, and his thoughts on teaching kids (and parents) about sportsmanship as the Little League season starts up this month.
Q: When did you realize that you wanted to play professional baseball? Did you play other sports growing up?
A: I played football and baseball growing up. I started thinking about playing pro ball during my 2nd year of junior college. I knew I was continually getting better, and I thought I might have a chance.
Q: Who were your favorite baseball players growing up?
A: Greg Maddux and Dale Murphy
Q: Did you play little league? If so, what's your earliest memory of playing?
A: I started playing Dixie Youth in Phenix City, AL at 8 years old. That was the earliest you could start back then. But my earliest memories of playing baseball are with the neighborhood kids or with my dad in our front yard. I couldn't get enough!
Q: As the winner of multiple awards for sportsmanship, what advice would you give little league coaches on how to teach kids as young as 4 to be good sports? And how to you teach them about playing for a team?
A: Coaches need to remember that kids love to have fun. If it's not fun at that age, then there's something wrong. It's important to teach the fundamentals of baseball at an early age, but the concepts of being a team player, supporting your teammates, and doing your very best are just as important. Don't emphasize winning and losing, but the importance of working hard and getting better. It's OK to be disappointed if you lose or don't play well, but a baseball game is over when the last out is recorded. There are more important things in life to focus on.
Q: As a father of three, what advice can you give parents who have kids playing team sports at young ages? How involved should a parent be and when should they step back?
A: Be involved as much as you possibly can, but in a healthy and positive way. If you're not the coach, don't try to be the coach. But being at all of your kids' practices and games shows them that you care about what they are doing. It's something hopefully everyone can enjoy as a family. Practicing with your child at home is great! It helps with baseball skills, but it also grows the bond between you and your child.
Q: You were neither drafted nor given a scholarship for college ball, initially. What gave you the motivation to keep working at it, and how did you overcome that hurdle to become the star that you are today?
A: I just love baseball. I knew that God had blessed me with a passion for baseball and a talent to play the game. I didn't worry about the rest. I knew that the right people would recognize it. I just worked to get better at every level. And when God gave me opportunities in baseball, I was always able to take advantage of them.
Q: Aside from the Braves, of course, who do you see making a run for the NL Championship this season?
A: The Phillies have proven themselves the last few years, so they are the team to knock off the top of the mountain. But I really like our chances this year.
Q: My 4-year-old wants to know what your favorite type of gum is. (I had to ask).
A: Bazooka! 5 pieces at a time!
Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of baseball? Do you cook? I saw that you were on Paula Deen's show on the Food Network...
A: No, I don't cook, but being on the Paula Deen show was a blast! I enjoy hanging out at my farm, spending time with my family, and going to Auburn football games.
Q: You support so many charities. How do you find the time to become SO involved in the community? Is there anything that kids can do to help the Hudson Family Foundation?
A: It is important to make time to do things for other people. I am blessed to play baseball for a living, and it has given me many opportunities to give back. I have a passion for children, and I am thankful for the work that we have been able to do in the local community. But there is always something more and different that can be done. I challenge everyone to look around you to see how you can make a difference in someone's life. That is the most important thing we can do.
Supporters are encouraged to visit the Hudson Family Foundation website at www.hudsonfamilyfoundation.com. Click on “Get Involved” to learn more about monthly volunteer opportunities, ways to donate, corporate partnerships, fundraising ideas, and much more. You can also reach the foundation via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 404-584-0095.