Roderick Simpson plays in showcase, baseball for his mom

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Natchez High School senior Roderick Simpson played six games in three days this past weekend at the Perfect Game Showcase in Atlanta. He said he played with players going to college and the pros.

“It was a headache. Six games in three days playing the best of the best from the world, it was an honor,” Simpson said. “You don’t just see people who wake up and think I want to be a baseball player. These guys are spending three to five days in the weight room, on the field. It was a big challenge. I just had to go there, play my game and have fun.”

It was an experience he never thought he could be a part of. While baseball was the first sport he played, it was also the hardest to learn. His path to success was “unexpected,” he said.

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A performance at another showcase caught the eyes of coaches and scouts. His head coach Dan Smith recommended him to play in the showcase, and he was chosen. Smith serves as an advocate for the whole team, he said.

“Coach Dan did his part to put me out there, so I had to do my part to show coach Dan made the right choice,” Simpson said. “He is a big advocate. Without him, I would not be where I’m standing right now. I would not be as good as I am. I would not be at the level I am now.”

Simpson’s mom Latoya Neal was able to watch her son play in the showcase. He said his mom is the reason he works so hard. She is the reason he is still playing baseball. Being able to play in the showcase in front of her was a special moment, he said.

“At one point in my life, it was just another sport that I played,” Simpson said. “Now, I’m able to show my mother that I’m playing to make it to the next level. I’m playing with the best of the best, and she is there to watch me. If it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be playing sports right now. She is the reason why I’m doing it.”

Growing up, and even now, he wanted to find a way to get out of the house. Baseball was another way to get him outside and keep him busy, he said.

Now he is trying to take the sport and run with it. In addition to playing baseball, Simpson plays football for Natchez. Playing both sports could be helpful, but they come with their own challenges for time management.

In baseball, he will find any window to squeeze in more work. His mom is the driving force behind his work. Her sacrifices have allowed him to play.

‘Baseball is my passion, and I feel like it is a way for me to help my mother,” Simpson said. “There have been times where I have had to sit out. She is doing the best she could. I could not have asked for a better mother. She gives me her all, and I just have to give her all in return. That is why I plan on taking my skills to the next level and go to the pros so I can give back.”