| Friday, August 2, 2002 01:58 EST
Twellman learned from talented family
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Taylor Twellman dives for a low ball,
heads it into the net and runs around in celebration -- another
moment for a family scrapbook that includes the baseball player who
pinch ran for a midget.
Relatives taught Twellman about the teamwork and dedication that
helped him become a leading scorer in Major League Soccer, a
starter in Saturday's All-Star game and a key to the New England
Revolution's playoff hopes.
His father, Tim, played for the Minnesota Kicks and Chicago
Sting of the NASL. His uncle is pro golfer Jay Delsing. His
grandfather, Jim Delsing, ran for 3-foot-7- inch Eddie Gaedel,
whose only plate appearance was a walk with the St. Louis Browns on
Aug. 19, 1951.
"It's very humbling to see my grandfather, who could claim he
won the World Series twice with the Yankees, talk,'' Twellman said.
"Do you ever hear him talk about himself? Never. It was always the
same thing with my father.''
Soccer forwards, because their job is to score, can be labeled
as selfish, but Twellman said his family helped him appreciate
being a team player.
That's what his grandfather did when he ran for Gaedel. His
grandfather, a .255 hitter and an outstanding fielder in 11 major
league seasons, is known mostly as the answer to a trivia question.
"It's a shame,'' Twellman said. "It's cool that he's
remembered for that, but he's only remembered for that. It's
unfortunate, but how many guys can say they played pro baseball for
Delsing, 76, played for the Yankees when they won the World
Series in 1949 and 1950, the Browns, the Chicago White Sox, Detroit
Tigers and Kansas City Athletics. Gaedel pinch hit as a gimmick by
Browns owner Bill Veeck.
Twellman, 22, is just getting started in American pro soccer
after a bittersweet experience in Germany. Going into Saturday's
All-Star game in Washington, he is second in scoring with 15 goals
in 20 games and leads the league in points with 34.
After two years at the University of Maryland, he moved to the
Bundesliga to play for TSV 1860 Munich. He led its reserve team in
goals in his first season but left after the next one.
"The first-team coach (Werner Lorant) came up to me and he
said, `When you're 24, we'll be ready for you.' It kind of hurt me
a little bit,'' Twellman said. "But it made me stronger, made me
realize that, day in and day out, it doesn't matter what you did
yesterday, it's what you do tomorrow.''
So he returned to the United States, hoping to make a bigger
name for himself, and was drafted by the Revolution.
He tied for third by scoring four goals for the United
States at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship for players under
20, and was in the player pool for the 2000 Olympics but didn't
make the final roster.
Twellman has never played for the national team, although he has
a good chance to be included in preparations for the 2006 World
"To have his first six months in MLS the way he has, you have
to take notice and say. `This guy's got a chance,' '' Revolution
coach Steve Nicol said. "When he's on, you can tell because he
turns bad balls into good ones. He chases lost causes.''
Twellman thinks going to 1860 Munich hurt his World Cup
prospects this year because he bypassed a spot in Project 40, a
program to get more than three dozen elite U.S. players to skip
college and turn pro in exchange for salary and future tuition.
"It's every kid's dream to play in the Bundesliga,'' he said.
"It was a good decision for me because it made me a stronger
player and a stronger person. I was humbled.''
The Revolution, ninth in a league in which eight teams make the
playoffs, hope Twellman can help the rally.
"He brings a lot of energy and a lot of commitment to the
game,'' said Revolution goalie Juergen Sommer, a member of the 1994
and 1998 U.S. World Cup teams. "He throws himself around and he
puts himself in scoring opportunities.''
Sommer may have to stop those opportunities as a goalkeeper on
the U.S. national team that will play the MLS All-Stars.
"I was taught as a kid it can go so good one moment and so bad
the next,'' Twellman said. "My grandfather is a great example.
You've got to keep that even keel because one night you're going to
have three errors, the next night you're going to hit a grand slam
"That's also part of being a forward. You're going to miss your
chances. It's the next one. What are you going to do with it?''
Taylor Twellman is having a phenomenal first season in MLS.