Not really fantasy related, but he just got moved up a couple spots on my draft board...
When Justin Allan Rollins learned that he was being deployed to Iraq last year, the soldier had a mission of his own: to see his beloved Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park one last time.
Spec. Rollins saw more than just a game that summer day. He got to meet one of his heroes, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Ortiz signed a ball for him. Later, in the stands, Rollins turned to his father.
Spec. Justin Allan Rollins is mourned by his brother Jonathan Rollins, girlfriend, Brittney Murray, and parents, Mitchel and Rhonda Rollins, at Arlington National Cemetery. Spec. Rollins's "personality was magnetic," a family friend said. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
"He said, 'If David Ortiz hits a home run, I can die a happy man in Iraq,' " recalled Kathryn Hanson, a close family friend. "His father thought it was the most eerie thing he had ever heard."
The Red Sox won that June 24 game against the Phillies -- with a home run by Ortiz. And this month, Rollins, 22, of Newport, N.H., died in Iraq. He was killed March 5 in Samarra, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat.
But even as he was buried yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery, Rollins's memory lived on for the player whose heart he had touched.
Ortiz was so broken up upon learning of Rollins's death that he sent a white No. 34 jersey to the funeral Saturday in Rollins's home town -- with an inscribed baseball he wanted placed inside the coffin. The jersey, displayed at the funeral and wake, contained a dedication to the young soldier: "My deepest condolences to the Rollins family. It was an honor to meet Justin and I will keep him in my prayers. Sincerely, David Ortiz."
Friends said they were not surprised that Rollins had touched Ortiz. "That's the kind of kid Justin was," Hanson said. "His personality was magnetic. He made an impression. David Ortiz meets how many people?"
Ortiz, through a Red Sox spokesman, declined to comment Friday, and Rollins's family could not be reached. The 6-4, 230-pound home run hitter wiped away tears as he talked to a reporter for MLB.com about Rollins.
"He's a young kid, full of life," Ortiz told MLB.com. "Unbelievable, you know. It's just sad."