NEW YORK -- In a desperately poor country nearly 6,900 miles away from Boston, where baseball remains a novelty and the kids who do play practice without shoes, Red Sox infielder Nick Punto learned he had one of his biggest fans.
And that’s why when Felix “Fefe” Enzama, a pitcher, shortstop and catcher on the Uganda team that was the first ever from Africa to play in the Little League World Series, returns home to his village of Lugazi, he will have a signed Punto jersey in his possession.
“One of our PR people, Leah [Tobin] told me about him,’’ Punto said here Saturday. “She told me that somehow he had my Punto ‘8’ T-shirt. Pretty cool, man. I sent him a jersey. He’s a good little player.’’
According to a story by ESPN the Magazine's Steve Wulf, documentary filmmaker Jay Shapiro had traveled to Lugazi, a sugar-producing town not far from the capital city of Kampala, and learned of Enzama’s admiration for Punto. Felix told Shapiro he saw Punto, then with the Twins, on a DVD a few years ago “and liked his energy.’’
A couple of days ago, under his @Puntoshredder Twitter handle, Punto posted this: “Shout out to Uganda’s Felix 'Fefe' Enzama. Best of luck!’’
On Saturday, while Punto was making eight plays at third base behind Jon Lester and hitting an RBI double, Fefe and Uganda were losing, 12-0, to Mexico in a four-inning perfect game. Fefe was the losing pitcher. A disappointing end to an improbable journey? Perhaps. But it may also be the beginning of a great story.
That’s the way Nomar Garciaparra, who was in Williamsport to cover the Little League World Series for ESPN, chose to look at it.
"It's great anytime a new team makes it here," he told Wulf. "But this is a new continent. I just hope they realize that their success in Williamsport won't depend on wins and losses. It's about the friends they'll make in The Grove, and showing the face of Uganda to the rest of the world. This isn't the last time Africa will be represented."