07/21/2022 7:50 AM
Article By: Daniel Fox
On an absolutely picture-perfect day in Boston, the ten Cape Cod Baseball Leagues teams took the field at Fenway Park on Tuesday to show off their skills fielding ground balls, shagging fly balls, and taking batting practice at the nation’s oldest ballpark. The event, dubbed “Fenway Day”, is an annual tradition that returned after a two-year, COVID induced hiatus, and scouts littered the century-old grandstands to celebrate the occasion.
As successful as the day was for the league and its players, there was something missing from the festivities: Former Yankee scout Kelly Rodman. Rodman was a beloved figure in both the Yankees and the scouting community before passing away in March of 2020. Rodman was a staple of Fenway Days of the past, and that made it a bittersweet day for those who knew her well.
“She was always a huge part of this day,” said friend and fellow Yankee scout Matt Hyde.
Though Rodman may be gone, her impact is just getting started. Shortly after her passing, her longtime partner Jen Mead began to lay the groundwork for a foundation in her memory.
“I was like ‘we need to keep her story alive’,”said Mead. “Her story wasn’t over, she had so much more to give and so many more people to impact, and I just wanted to continue that.”
Mead strove to create a foundation that would continue every aspect of the work of Rodman. Rodman was not only a key figure in the scouting community, but also did a lot of philanthropic work, including with the Baseball Miracles, where she traveled around the world helping underprivileged communities.
“There were two entities I wanted to help,” said Mead. “Those wanting to continue in the profession, and helping those in the youth area that needed help with some resources.”
The foundation was officially founded in November 2020, and began to receive support from those in the scouting community who knew Rodman well. This group included Matt Hyde, a longtime friend and mentor of Rodman.
“Matt was extremely instrumental,” said Mead. “He just gave her the confidence and saw something in her that he believed in and really just boosted her confidence. He was a teacher, a mentor, a friend, a colleague all rolled into one, and she just trusted him and he just trusted her. They had a really unique relationship.”
With the help of Hyde and personal donations, the foundation began to take off in 2021. A number of scouts ran a baseball camp that included top Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe, and the foundation ran its first official event in June: A mini golf tournament that was attended by 21 teams and 75 people.
The donations also allowed Mead to continue Rodman’s philanthropic work. She completed a number of projects, including resurfacing a field, giving equipment and a pitching machine to a team in Connecticut, and providing supplies to several local teams.
This year, Rodman focused on helping the other entity: those looking to enter the profession of baseball.
“I was talking to Matt Hyde, and I was like “I really want to help some of the (Cape League) interns.” said Mead. “(And he said) ‘we should help the scout liaison position’. That makes a lot of sense. There’s ten of them, it’s practical and sensical, and it sort of fits with who she is, and the impact she had. So we decided to start there.”
Thus, the Kelly Rodman Memorial MLB Scout Liaison Stipend was created. According to the capecodbaseball.org official press release, the stipend will “ be given annually to the individual on each Cape Cod Baseball League team responsible for coordinating information with the Major League scouting community during the summer.” The release also states the intention of the award is to “cover the expenses associated with executing their job to the best of their ability and can be used for supplies, equipment, and gear in line with being a professional representative of their organization.”
“I think it’s the sort of thing Kelly would have really embraced.” said Hyde “You know, helping people who are just getting the start in the game, and she was all about that, and that was a big part of her life. “
The stipend is far from the end of the league’s partnership with the foundation, however. At the July 23 All-Star game, Mead will be running a tent with the foundation featuring merchandise, giveaways and the chance to learn more about Rodman and the organization
In future years, Mead hopes to continue to expand the foundation outside the Northeast, giving them the ability to make a larger impact. But for a short-term goal, all you need to do is look at Rodman’s signature phrase.
“Kelly would be in all of the clubhouses,” said Mead “And she had an original coin made. On one side it said ‘Be Great Today’ and on the other side it said ‘Thank you K-Rod.’ And she gave that out to everybody, and that was her thing. Do your best, be your best. And obviously I started the foundation with my own coin, but we needed our own coin. So we designed a new coin. On one side it has the Kelly Rodman Foundation logo, a backwards K, and on the other side it has the phrase ‘Be Great Today’. So her story started with the new coin, and I’m continuing it with the original coin.”
Be great today. It’s words that Kelly Rodman lived by, and it’s a sentiment that the foundation in her name is hoping to carry on.