By Kent Larsen
Has Elder Iorg Given it All Away?
KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE -- Elder Isaac Iorg, serving an LDS mission in
East LA, got a birthday present last week. It was the answer to a
childhood dream, a present that would allow him to be just like his
dad, but no one told him about it for days. He finally discovered the
present when his mission president told him several days later. And
now, his family awaits his return home June 20th to see what he will
do with the present.
Elder Iorg's present was a draft notice -- from the Toronto Blue
Jays, the baseball team that his dad played for from 1978 to 1987,
and that now employs him as first base coach. Isaac's mission
president printed out the draft notice to show him when he gave him
the news, but his family still doesn't really know how Isaac reacted.
Isaac was raised playing baseball. As a second baseman for Florida's
Dunedin National little league team in 1991, he went to the Little
League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Later, after the
family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where his father, Garth, was
manager for the Blue Jay's Double-A team, Isaac played baseball in
High School, and he was good enough that the Blue Jays wanted him as
soon as he graduated, drafting him in 1998.
But instead of following his father, who was drafted at age 18 by the
New York Yankees in 1973, Isaac decided to go to college and play at
BYU. His freshman year, Isaac hit .400 as the starting shortstop, and
then decided to go on a mission.
For the past two years, Isaac has served in one of the more
poverty-stricken areas of the US, living in East LA at one time in a
member's converted garage best known in the mission for the bullet
holes in the door. Naturally he took along some baseball equipment, a
bat, ball and two gloves, hoping to get in some fun on his
But where others, including members of their extended family, see
sacrifice in delaying a major league career, Garth sees advantage for
his son, "Everybody thinks it's some great sacrifice he's made.
Believe me, he's gotten far more out of it than what he even
anticipated," his father said. "He's seen another part of life. He's
learned Spanish. He's had incredible experiences you can only have if
you're out doing that kind of work. It's been mostly pleasant, but a
lot of unpleasant things have happened to him. But that's part of
doing what you've committed to do. It's not easy doing the right
things sometimes. But he's done the right thing."
But what Garth and his wife Patty don't know is what exactly they
will get back when Isaac returns home, what changes the mission will
have made in their son. "It's like when you have a baby and you're
wondering who that baby will be," Patty Iorg said. "Not the sex, or
the color of the hair or eyes. You want to know: Who is that little
person? That's what I feel like now."
They have carefully read Isaac's letters home, as parents will do,
looking for signs of what he thinks and feels and how he is changing
on his mission. And he has changed. He has mentioned law school, and
he knows that a BYU scholarship awaits him should he decide to go
there. Or, Toronto may offer enough money for school expenses in the
off-season, attracting him to baseball.
His parents also have evidence that the changes in Isaac have made
baseball less important to him than other things. While he did take
the baseball equipment with him, he won't be bringing it home. Struck
by the poverty around him, Isaac has given the bat, ball and gloves
Now, Garth and Patty await his return to see what Isaac will do with
his life. His mother has arranged a surprise for his homecoming, June
20th. While Isaac knows that his sister and her husband will fly from
their home in Tampa for his arrival, he doesn't know about another
family member who will be there unexpectedly. "I told Garth, 'You
missed graduation for Eli. There are a few other things you've
missed. You will be there when he gets off that plane. You either
talk to (manager) Buck (Martinez) or I will,' " Patty said. "So Isaac
has no idea Garth will be there.
"My family will be together for the first time in two years. Garth
has the field, but my job is my family. When we are all together;
that's my reward."
Baseball calls; life beckons
St Petersburg FL Times 13Jun01 S2
By John Romano