CINCINNATI -- You won't find stats is this baseball story.
It's a story about a man, his dogs and his life off the field helping others.
A scout said that the key play of the all-star game for the National League six days ago was Scott Rolen going first to third on a single to centre.
How does that feeling, safe after a head-first slide, compare to what Rolen has done off the field?
"I'd be embarrassed to try to even compare," Rolen said Sunday morning in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse at Great American Ball Park. He had Sunday off because of a stomach flu.
Rolen, the ex-Blue Jays third baseman, has a 180-acre camp in Bloomington, Ind. -- Camp Emma Lou -- funded by the Enis Furley Foundation for children and their families (enisfurley.com).
It is not specific to children attacked by one cruel disease.
"It's for the kid walking home from school, head down, kicking stones," Rolen said. "He may be healthy, but maybe mom is sick, or his father. It's for kids who have spent too much time in the hospital."
The Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis makes the recommendations.
Four cabins have been built, along with a man-made lake. There are paddle boats, a petting zoo, a lodge with a fireplace, two horses, a Little League diamond, a soccer field and a tree house. And they're not finished.
"My brother, Todd, and I came up with the idea of building a camp for children and their families for a week," Rolen said. "To have fun, have a blast. Let's play. "
That's what they do.
* * *
In his second full season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1998, Rolen made hospital visits with the rest of the players. They'd hand out bags of goodies from the Phillies containing caps, wrist bands and baseballs as the TV cameras purred.
"I didn't think generosity should go with publicity," said Rolen, who decided a better approach for future visitis would be without TV crews.
So, the next year Rico Brogna, Kevin Sefcik and Rolen visited the terminal cancer ward at Temple University.
"They were tough kids. We'd walk in with our Phillies jerseys, it was like we were wearing capes," Rolen said in the best description of how a child's eyes see a major leaguer. "That's how special the uniform is to a child. I'm sure if we went in street clothes, it wouldn't have been the same."
The five-minute visit made everyone happy for a short time.
"Kids, parents, brothers and sisters in the room were all laughing," he recounted. "The child was not ill. Physically yes, but emotionally no. There was hope in those rooms."
Rolen phoned his brother Todd, a high school teacher in Louisville, with the suggestion of starting a kids foundation.
"I was wearing red pinstripes and red shoes to work every night. What adult does that?" Rolen asked. "Why not start a circus? We'll put on clown costumes and wear big red noses."
As Rolen admitted, "our idea needed a little work."
Days turned into months, months into years. the circus idea was discussed but nothing happened.
* * *
Rolen was at home in Bradenton, Fla., on Sept. 10, 2011. His parents drove him to the Tampa airport the next morning so he could re-join the Phillies for a game in Atlanta.
The departures board soon read: 'Cancelled, cancelled, cancelled.' His parents heard on the radio of the attack on the World Trade Centre and headed to the airport.
At the time, the Phillies-Braves series was still scheduled, so his parents drove him to Atlanta.
"We'd heard a report that the CNN tower might be attacked, so we stayed outside of the city," Rolen said.
When the series was scrapped, his parents drove him to Cincinnati where the Phillies were supposed to play the Reds. Then, that series was postponed, as well.
Rolen phoned his brother in mid-September and, in December, Todd resigned as a teacher to work on the foundation.
* * *
Now that the Rolens were moving, the foundation needed a name. The third baseman decided on Enis Furley the name of his golden retriever/pointer mix, "the best dog ever."
Rolen acquired the dog for free and estimates he spent $40,000 US in vet bills. Enis had epileptic seizures, some times 13 a day, and pancreatis.
"The vet told us to put him down when he was four months old," Rolen said. "I said no chance. All he wanted to do was play ball all day."
When Rolen was home, he'd toss. Enis would fetch. Enis even appeared in a Phillies TV add fetching a ball at Veterans Stadium.
"My brother phoned after fund-raising," Rolen laughed. "Todd said: 'You know, we might have a better chance if it was the Scott Rolen Foundation, rather than having someone ask me how to spell Enis.
"I told him that naming it after Enis was in the spirit of the whole thing."
Enis died last September at age 13 at Camp Emma Lou.
The camp is named after Emma Lou after Rolen's 12-year-old black lab.
* * *
Rolen invited seven-year-old Tyler Frenzel of Carmel, Ind., to Busch Stadium to be on the field for batting practice after the youngster had been diagnosed with leukemia. Tyler had a few good months, then a bad turn, so Rolen went for a visit.
"We're playing a video game, he made me be myself while he was Randy Johnson, who threw this pitch with flames coming off the ball," Rolen recalled. "He struck me out three times on nine pitches. Tyler, like everyone else, knew I can't hit a fastball."
In 2004, Tyler, who was terminal, was invited to the Enis gala fund-raiser.
"We introduced him as our annual hero and he comes to get his award," said Rolen.
Tyler accepted the honour and then presented Rolen with a $1,000 cheque made out to the Enis Furley Foundation.
"What do you say to that?" Rolen asked.
The questioner could not answer because a) he didn't have an answer, and b) he couldn't speak.
"Tyler sold T-shirts that read 'No Limits' to raise money," Rolen said. "He said he wanted it to go towards building a tree house at the camp."
A couple of months later, Tyler was on the field before at an Indianapolis Colts game for the ceremonial coin flip and told Peyton Manning "Scott Rolen is building me a tree house."
Manning phoned Rolen and together they staged an auction on the syndicated Bob And Tom morning show.
"We now have a $150,000 tree house in our woods," Rolen said. "All because of Tyler."
From Tyler's contribution, roughly $700,000 has been raised, with Rolen paying salaries of sister Kristie, brother Todd and accountant Cory Luebbehusen.
Rolen's wife, Nicki, was eight months pregnant when Tyler died in 2004. Soon after, Raine Tyler, now age five, arrived. Finn Edward, the Rolens second child, is two.
* * *
Rolen has never been your normal ball player.
"This game we play, it isn't real," Rolen said. "The game has given me great value in my personal life. It's like I always tell Joey Votto. There's no karma in baseball: Bad guys can do well in this game. You can be happy in this game and not be happy in life.
"Would you rather be 4-for-4 with, two home runs and knock in six and be divorced? Or would you rather go home to your family?"
Rolen is 13 days away from his first anniversary with the Reds. He had asked former Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi to deal him to the Midwest (Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers or the Reds) last year and on July 4 weekend, Ricciardi approached him at Yankee Stadium saying that the Reds had interest.
The Jays acquired third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, plus minor leaguers Zach Stewart and Josh Roenicke for Rolen on July 31.
"I enjoyed Toronto, fans, teammates, trainer George Poulis," said Rolen, who paid for a skybox for his parents, Linda and Ed, to watch games at the Rogers Centre. The Jays didn't make him pay for the final two months.
He rented an Oakville condo for his parents, who will see more than 100 games this season.
The Reds gave Rolen a two-year, $13-million contract extenstion this spring.
The good work of Enis Furley will continue.