Magazine article Ebony

Dontrelle Willis: The 'D-Train' Rolls On

Magazine article Ebony

Dontrelle Willis: The 'D-Train' Rolls On

Article excerpt

DONTRELLE Willis knows all about the alleged sophomore jinx that is supposed to devour a player during the season aster he wins Major League Baseball's Rookie of the Year award. But the long-legged pitcher, who mesmerized National League hitters last season, doesn't believe in it, gives no credence to it and refuses to be consumed by it.

Instead, the Florida Marlins lefthander, who's affectionately known as "D-Train," continues to perform at a level that's uncommon for a man who just celebrated his 22nd birthday. "Whenever someone talks about a sophomore jinx," he says, "I'm like, "Whatever you say, man.'"

With a high kick in his windup that's reminiscent of Vida Blue and Juan Marichal, an abundance of talent and his unbridled enthusiasm, Willis has become one of baseball's most talked-about stars, a fan favorite who in his brief storybook career not only has been cited as the game's best new-comer, but also has experienced the thrill of a World Series victory--against the legendary New York Yankees.

That, however, is yesterday's news for the 6-foot-4 Willis, who already understands the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately side of baseball. "it's all about winning," says Dontrelle, who last year made an immediate impact and ended the season with a 14-6 won-lost record. This year, he started fast again, faltered a bit, but the "D-Train" has kept rolling along--one pitch at a time.

Even as a youngster, Dontrelle displayed an unusual level of perseverance and ingenuity that emerged in his Alameda, Calif. …

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