Perfect Pitch

Robin Allemand '10 (l.), Yinna Lin, Xinjie Shen, and Kirby Neuner '15 on Bobby Coombs Field
Robin Allemand '10 (l.), Yinna Lin, Xinjie Shen, and Kirby Neuner '15 on Bobby Coombs Field

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- On Saturday, October 18 former Eph baseball standout Robin Allemand '10 returned to campus in his role as the Coordinator of Major League Baseball's (MLB) Market Development in China. This trip for Allemand was not social, but business-oriented.

Allemand was fluent in English and French when he enrolled at Williams, where he decided as a sophomore to major in Chinese. After posting a .357 career batting average for the Ephs over his four-year career as an infielder, Allemand headed to France and ended up playing for the French National Team.

While competing for the French National Team, Allemand was contacted by the MLB Office in New York. MLB was three years into its outreach program in China, hoping to continue to grow the game on the international scene. Allemand had interned two summers in MLB headquarters in New York City and in Wuxi, China at the site of the first-ever MLB Development Center during his time as an Eph student.

Acing the interview with MLB in New York, Allemand was hired to be MLB's Coordinator of Market Development. He has been in Beijing for the last four years, where the sport of baseball has grown from an unattractive niche sport into an increasingly popular middle class sport.

Joining Allemand on his return to campus this past weekend was Xinjie Shen, Yinna Lin and, Calvin Li and Zhang Xiamo, two members, of a camera crew for MLB China.

Twelve year-old Xinjie had won a competition on the Chinese reality show "Perfect Pitch" that came with a grand prize of a trip to the United States. Perfect Pitch featured a contest of throwing a baseball at targets, running the bases, and hitting. MLB China has opened three development centers and Xinjie was admitted to one of the centers just prior to coming to America. Xinjie's dream is to pitch for the New York Yankees.

Before arriving at Williams, Allemand and the group had visited the MLB Office in New York City, the MLB Network in New Jersey, Citi Field (home of the New York Mets), Yankee Stadium, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

Allemand had suggested to his superiors in China and New York that because Xinjie is a remarkable student, musician, and aspiring baseball player, a trip to a college campus would also be a nice feature on his U.S. excursion. Of course, Williams was on the top of Allemand's list of colleges to visit.

Arriving on campus on Saturday morning, the group from MLB China was met at the '62 Theatre by Eph Sports Information Director Dick Quinn and senior baseball player Kirby Neuner.

After viewing the '62 Theatre Main Stage and a rehearsal of the Frosh Revue, the group walked to and through the Paresky Center on their way to a meeting with Tony Sheppard, Music Chair, in Sheppard's office in Brooks-Rogers.

Sheppard spoke about the music program at Williams, his background in Chinese and Asian music and, of course, Eph grad Wang Leehom who was a member of the Class of 1998.

Wang Leehom, who was born near Rochester, NY, majored in music at Williams and while at Williams created a music video that won a contest in Taiwan, home of his parents. That contest win has spawned a music and acting career for Wang Leehom that has made him the biggest entertainer in all of Southeast Asia.

Sheppard showed Xinjie and Yinna and the camera crew the Brooks-Rogers facility, the classroom he taught Wang Leehom in, and then took them for a brief look at the famed Chapin Hall.

Xinjie shows off his award-winning form

From Chapin Hall the group next ventured to the Sawyer Library, where Allemand quickly joined the growing list of Williams alums who are both jealous and proud of the 84 million dollar project that has transformed the Williams' library into a tremendous learning center.

Neuner led the group on a tour of the library showing the 3-D printer, study carrels, the space for relaxation where you can actually play with Legos, and then his reserved study carrel in Sawyer.

On the walk down Spring Street Robin Allemand told Xinjie about the commemorative rock near Tunnel City Coffee that honors Williamstown resident Frank Grant who starred in the Negro League.

After a quick visit to the new Weston Athletic Complex, the group next ventured to the northeast end of the campus so Kirby, Xinjie, and Robin could play catch on a very soggy Bobby Coombs Field, where Robin played shortstop and third base for the Ephs.