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 Friday, August 2, 2002 01:58 EST

Twellman learned from talented family

[Associated Press]

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.


Taylor Twellman is having a phenomenal first season in MLS.
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 19 years?''

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 Cup.

"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 to win.

"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?''


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