On the surface the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors are a well-performing baseball team from Atlanta’s South SIde. In fact, they are. But their role on the field and in the community goes well beyond the chalky dust of the baseball diamond.
By this time next year, Mendez Elder figures to be on a baseball scholarship at Georgia Tech, Clemson or Rice – the first person in his immediate family to go to college. The catcher is a top prospect in Georgia and was the only inner-city baseball player ever selected for June’s Perfect Game National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla.
On a recent warm, sunny Saturday morning, Mendez was at Perkerson Park on the south side of Atlanta, helping middle school kids work on their game. Mendez is a catcher with a rocket for an arm. But what he has to offer, any middle school player, regardless of position, would lap up. To them, he’s a bit of a local hero.
Mendez, a rising senior with a 3.3 GPA at Grady High in downtown Atlanta, is a leader on the baseball field and in the community, a coach’s dream, a mother’s answered prayer.
Not too long ago though, he was the polar opposite.