Jim Cederberg graduated from York Catholic High School in 1972, but he never played baseball for the Irish.
The reason was pretty straight-forward -- he wasn't good enough.
"I went out for the team, but I got cut," Cederberg said. "I didn't do well."
But that negative experience didn't diminish his love for the game.
Cederberg, 57, went on to study law at Duke University and moved to Boulder, Colo., where he has practiced personal injury law for more than 30 years.
As important as that, he said, is the time he spent over the years coaching his three sons the game of baseball.
"It's a quality-of-life thing," he said in an interview Wednesday morning. "Baseball is the greatest game in the world, and I love being a part of it somehow. And I enjoyed passing my passion on to my sons."
But his sons are grown men now. They're not playing Little League anymore. So about three years ago, he was approached by a friend -- Drew Sauer, 28, a banker from Superior, Colo. -- about taking the game of baseball to children who knew nothing about it.
And I mean "nothing."
Cederberg laughed. His experience closely paralleled advice given by well-known baseball sage Yogi Berra: "When you come to a fork in the road -- take it," Berra advised. "I came to a fork in the road," Cederberg said, "and I took it."
He took it all the way to Kenya -- western Kenya to be exact. And that first year -- February 2010 -- he and Sauer gathered up as much baseball equipment as they could carry and joined forces with a foundation that does missionary work in faraway places.
Their mission? Teach baseball to young Kenyans for two weeks at a time, in a country where soccer and long-distance running are the national sports.
"Our goal was to teach a little baseball, play a little baseball and spread a lot of goodwill," Cederberg said. "It's a humanitarian thing, a chance to spend some time with people who have a totally different life than we do in America."
Cederberg and Sauer have been to Kenya three times -- they'll go again in January 2013. Each trip was in December, January or February because that corresponds to the dry season in Kenya. Obviously that's very important when teaching baseball.
And every time they go, they see progression in the skill levels of the children they worked with the trip before.
"I'd say they -- children from three different communities and 10 different schools between the ages of 14 and 21 -- have early-Little League skills," Cederberg said. "It's a long process because we've basically started from scratch with kids who had no understanding of the game whatsoever."
But they certainly are willing to learn.
"We start with the most fundamental of fundamentals," Cederberg said. "We're not teaching anyone how to bunt or steal bases. We don't even teach them the strike zone. Too complicated for beginners. We teach them how to hold a bat, how to catch and throw a ball. We make bases out of carpet remnants. They have no stick games in their country, so it's a swing-for-all. They are a bunch of free-swingers, let's put it that way."
As Cederberg said it, I imagined Vladimir Guerrero of the Dominican Republic, the 16-year veteran of four major league teams -- including the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 -- who was known to have a strike zone that ranged from balls bouncing in the dirt to pitches over his head.
Apparently Kenya is a country full of free-swinging Vladimirs. If it is round and has stitches on it, they will swing at it.
Hence, no need to worry too much about teaching the strike zone. Or, for that matter, the concept of a batting order.
But they do have good hand-eye coordination, Cederberg said. "So they do become decent hitters."
They also can throw -- one girl threw a baseball more than 200 feet in the air. It was a missile, he said.
"And they like to compete. So we have games with one school team playing against another," Cederberg said. Then on a weekend, they play a tournament. "We have fun with it. It's pandemonium, especially when school lets out and the little kids come to watch. We don't need a backstop because, if a ball gets by the catcher, there will be 50 little kids running after it."
Games are played in cow pastures. No fences. Sort of like we had 50 years ago in America. "We improvise a lot," Cederberg said. "Slowly, but surely, they learn about the game of baseball. And all the equipment is left behind when we leave, so the kids have it there to play with until we return."
So if you love baseball, have a true passion for the game, and are interested in participating in Cederberg's adventure, check the Internet for: 42-22 Humanity Through Baseball Foundation. The Website: www.42-22.org.
"Volunteers are welcome," he said, "though it'll cost about $5,000 to cover all expenses for the two-week trip."
Or maybe you just want to donate baseball equipment -- balls, bats, gloves and T-shirts -- or money for equipment. You can do that, too.
One of these days, there will be a 19-year-old from Kenya playing in the major leagues. He will be the first. And he may very well have gotten his start by playing catch with York County native Jim Cederberg in the cow pastures of Kenya.
Spreading the gospel of baseball -- it hardly gets any better than that.
Sports columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Thurs days. E-mail: lhick firstname.lastname@example.org.