"He can pitch it, hit it, and go get it." -- Capital Rockets' Alexander Rose
When Wayne Ouzts was 7 and playing baseball at Kenilworth School, he dreamed that someday he would be the best ballplayer in the area.
Now, 20 years later, Ouzts, who plays for Indian AC, is considered one of the best players in the Banneker baseball league.
"I think he is one of the better all-around athletes in the city," said Indian AC assistant coach Jose Chisley. "He can play practically every position in football, basketball and baseball."
Capital Rocket assistant Coach William Jones agrees: "Wayne Ouzts is a total athlete and definitely the best in the area."
But 10 years ago, Indian Manager Melvin Carter became impatient with his young star. "He was very young and immature. He wanted to play with his friends but they weren't qualified," said Carter. "I was going to cut him, but I was talked out of it by an older guy that had a better insight."
The "older guy" was was James (Pop) Brown, who had a major influence on Ouzts' baseball life.
"He was the man that really influenced me to play at Banneker," said Ouzts. "One day I wanted to quit the Indians, handed them my release and went home. But Pop Brown wouldn't let me quit and asked that I stick with it. Brown was the father that I never knew so I dedicated my baseball career to him."
Brown would pass away later that year.
Ouzts, 27, is the oldest of six children and admits baseball is his first love. "I grew up in the project in Kenilworth and it seemed that baseball was the only thing we liked to do. It was hard growing up; most of my friends had older brothers so that made me a loner.
"I used to go in the house and watch the Washington Senators on television. I caddied at Langston golf course so I would have money to go to the stadium. We had a gang that challenged other neighborhoods in different sports. Everyone followed me because I was the best athlete."
In 1975, Ouzts, who attended Phelps Vocational High School, made the all-Interhigh and all-Met baseball teams. The first game of his senior year, however, he tore cartilage in one knee and the injury has plagued him ever since.
Now, Ouzts' baseball is limited to the Banneker league where he is batting .350 and has played every position for the Indians.
"Two weeks ago, I pitched a four-hitter in an important game," said Ouzts, who usually plays center field. "I'm the inspiration of my team. I don't see any reason to brag. I just go out and prove my point."