From kickball legend to Marine hero — the story of Eduardo Ortiz

From kickball legend to Marine hero — the story of Eduardo Ortiz
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A year ago, Brooklyn United’s Eduardo Ortiz led his top-seeded team through its spirited playoff run, which ended in the semifinals.

Now he’s leading fellow Marines on combat missions in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn United limps to the post-season without its vocal infielder, the man everyone calls “The Corporal.”

We caught up with Ortiz last week to talk about how McCarren Park compares with dusty Central Asian plains and whether Brooklyn United can win a championship this year.

Q: Why did you enlist in the Marines and how long is your deployment?

A: I believe that our country deserves our service and that there’s more to life than just self-service. In the grand scheme of things, I may not be able to change the world, but with every action, I know I’ll be able to change someone or touch their life, and that will suffice. My deployment is for seven to eight months, I’ll be back in 2012.

Q: How do you think Brooklyn United will do in the playoffs?

A: They’ll leave their best in the field, like every year. We play hard and play to win.

Q: How has the league supported you before the deployment?

A: The league has been awesome — I went back for pre-deployment leave, from North Carolina, and it was as if I’d been gone forever. Everyone was appreciative of me being back, and I definitely didn’t pay for anything I drank.

Q: Have your teammates at Brooklyn United done anything to honor your dedication to this country?

A: Brooklyn United is more than just a team, we’re like family — a highly disfunctional family, but I know I can always count on them.

Q: What’s your favorite game or kickball moment from your career?

A: I don’t have a favorite moment, I enjoy and cherish every time I’m able to play. I’m lucky enough to do so.

Q: Who in the league is going to carry on your legacy?

A: I don’t have a legacy, I’m just one more grown man pretending to be a kid and for a few hours on a Sunday to forget about all that is going on in our world.

Q: Will you try to start a kickball tradition among Marines at your base in Afghanistan?

A: That may very well be a possibility, if anyone mails me a kickball.

Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for your teammates and for anyone else playing kickball?

A: I’m not the only one serving, if you want to do something nice for me, then write a letter or send a package to a service member who is placing their life on the line to protect all that we hold near and dear to our hearts.

Q: How has playing kickball prepared you for military life?

A: It hasn’t. Kickball is merely a sport — a kids sport at that.

Game notes

Hurricane Irene blew away all regularly scheduled games Sunday, forcing League Commissioner Kevin “Commish” Dailey to cancel the action and postpone the controversial Buy-A-Run fundraiser to next week.

Buy-a-Run-Day with Brooklyn Kickball at Gilroy Field in McCarren Park (Bedford Avenue at N. 13th Street in Greenpoint), Sept. 4, 1–11 pm.