FORT MILL — At 15, Izzy Salant is one of the younger journalists covering the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
Izzy is reporting on the convention for his Rockville, Md., high school paper. With the convention only a day old, Izzy already has interviewed Martin OMalley, the governor of Maryland who spoke to the convention Tuesday night.
He also has interviewed several of the delegates and Democratic Party officials from Maryland.
When Izzy gets stumped, all he has to do is turn to his dad, Jonathan, who is covering the convention for Bloomberg. His area of expertise is campaign finance.
The father-son combo took time for another passion Tuesday baseball. Jonathan has managed the National Press Clubs softball teams. Izzy plays second base and center field, likes the Washington Nationals and goes old school for his favorite players Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson.
They took their passion to the field, Knights Stadium specifically, taking batting practice and then fielding infield hits at the Home Runs for Healthy Kids charity event which raised money for the Levine Childrens Hospital in Charlotte and the Lurie Childrens Hospital in Chicago.
The private event in Fort Mill, hosted by the Convention Sports and Entertainment Group, has become a convention staple even though it is not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican national conventions. This the fifth time convention delegates, guests and lobbyists have had a chance to test their baseball skills. This is the first time the event has been held at a minor-league park.
The mix of attendees gave Jonathan and people such as Pete Jeffries of Des Moines, Iowa, a chance to do combine work with a few swings, misses, foul tips and occasionally, a sweet smack.
Jeffries works with AARP. A session at the batting cage left him sweating, reminding him of the time he spends weekly with his 12-year-old son at the cage. Social issues are important to the AARP, he said, and they brought their national tour of Youve Earned a Say to Charlotte for the convention, allowing more voices to be heard on the issues, Jeffries said.
While some work was done, it was clear most of the attendees were there for baseball.
It is so much fun to pretend youre 12, said Matt Gelman of Annandale, Va. who works for Microsoft, which is providing much of the technology for the convention just as it did for the Republicans in Tampa.
Gelman took not one, but at least three turns at the plate, each time his name being announced over the stadium public address system as he approached the plate. During his third appearance, Knights officials joked he was auditioning for a spot with the Chicago White Sox organization.
And with more pitches from Eddie Busque, the groundskeeper for the Knights who lives in Fort Mill, Gelman came closer and closer to sending one over the outfield fence.
That honor initially went to Joe Borchard, a financial representative from Northwestern Financial in Charlotte. Borchard, however, is better known as Mr. Knight, playing from 2002 to 2005 for the minor-league team. He still holds the team records for all-time hits, home runs and RBIs.
Borchard, in white shirt, neck tie, and sun glasses, stepped to the plate and put one just over the outfield fence.
Borchard and James Baldwin, who pitched in the majors for 11 years including an All-Star season with the White Sox, said there should be more batting practice events like this so fans can see just how tough it is to hit. And thats hitting at batting practice speeds, not the 98 mph pitches the speed of Baldwins fastball at his prime.
The family-friendly event also brought out some delegates, including Heather Steans of Chicago who brought her three North Carolina nephews to the park. So far, Steans said, Charlotte has been a great host and the Illinois delegations prime hotel assignment is within walking distance of Time Warner Cable Arena.
Before baseball, Steans took a few minutes to talk politics, noting the Republicans put on a show and spoke well in Tampa, but didnt have specifics.
I want Obama to put out a plan for the economy. Thats a real opportunity for us. she said.
Thats the home run Steans wants to see, even if it comes at the Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers football team.
Don Worthington firstname.lastname@example.org