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Shawn Green: Rising Star

By Jason Unger
1997: A promising young right fielder north of the border looks for a job. He knows he has the ability, the talent. Unfortunately for him, his manager does not see it that way. This is what Shawn Green, the All-Star right fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays was experiencing. His manager, Cito Gaston, didn't see the potential in him. Maybe if Cito did, he'd still have his job....

1998: The new manager of the Jays, Tim Johnson, announces that Green will play everyday in right field and bat third for his team. This came as a shocker to Shawn, as he had never been secured a spot of his own. But Green didn't let his manager down, in fact, he made it look like one of the smartest decisions in a long time.

Most people wouldn't expect Shawn Green to be the person he really is; with his dyed blonde hair, his web site, his love of Pearl Jam, he's one of the up and coming talents in the Major Leagues. But, behind all that is a Jewish boy from Illinois. A Jewish boy you ask? Believe it or not. Following in the steps of Hall of Famers like Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, Green looks to balance his religion and his game successfully- and it looks like he has been able to.

In 1998, Green became the first Blue Jay ever to join the 30-30 club (30 homeruns and 30 stolen bases). He accumulated 35 of each, driving in 100 runs and hitting .279. Nice numbers, sure, but he ain't done yet. This year, he has already surpassed his homerun and RBI totals of last year, while hitting over .315. He has quickly become an MVP candidate in only his 2nd year playing everyday- and he's only 26 years old!

\plain\f16 \par \plain\f8 Growing up, Shawn's favorite player was Rickey Henderson. "Wherever Rickey was, that's where my camera was pointed." Shawn added, "I remember going back to Oakland for the first time [as a pro]. I was playing right field and Rickey was hitting, and I remember getting a chill. He was in his distinct stance, that crouch, and I'm thinking, 'I should be in the stands watching this."

Earlier this year, Green accumulated a 28 game hitting streak, the longest in the AL this season. "It was a lot of fun," said Shawn. "It was good for the fans. I had a great time with it. I was hoping it would go on for a little while." But Shawn doesn't care about personal accolades- when asked about his MVP chances, he responded "
" I don't even think about it. I'd rather see us in the post-season, and if we get there, those other things will take care of themselves.''