IF HIS PLANS to make a career of sports medicine don't reach fruition, perhaps Abdul-Aziz Mujahid can make millions by switching to real estate.
With passion, he can state the importance of location, location, location.
Mujahid, a 5-10, 185-pound senior, is a baseball player at Murrell Dobbins Tech, in North Philadelphia, but he lives near 15th and Christian, in South Philly, a long fly ball from the Marian Anderson Rec Center.
Sure, some quality hoopsters have come out of Anderson. In recent times, however, that facility has gained national acclaim for a youth baseball program, the Anderson Monarchs, run by Steve Bandura.
"I first discovered baseball at age 3," Mujahid said. "That field was right there. Real close to my house. Couldn't help but notice.
"Steve has been great to me. He has 'raised' me from about age 5 to now. Baseball's a great game. I'm always hyped about it."
He paused and added, "I love it to death."
If Dobbins' season had expired yesterday, surprise would not have been the reaction.
The Public League's four divisions are divided by the teams' perceived ability, from A (best) to D (um, not the best) and Dobbins is perched in D. And a preliminary-round playoff in Class AAAA called for a road game with Samuel Fels, of Division C.
"I was a little concerned," Mujahid said. "But there's always a possibility, right? Just have to play your game."
The game lasted just six innings. That was because Dobbins rolled to an 11-1 triumph, with the 10-run mercy rule bringing about a termination.
Mujahid, a lefty, went the distance. Though he walked seven and plunked three, he did allow just one hit (Edgardo Lozano's first-inning RBI double) and he did record 12 strikeouts and he did force the Panthers to strand 11 runners (six in scoring position).
"A one-hitter? It was?" Mujahid said. "That's a great achievement."
Honestly, it was not exactly easy viewing.
As he acknowledged with his megawatt smile, "Dollie" (he pronounces it doolie; it's a takeoff of Abdul) is a painfully slow worker. He takes 15 seconds to deliver pitches after taking return throws from catcher Terrell "Mouse" Barringer, and that's when he's working quickly.
"I just like being sure I'm doing things right," he said. "I like messing with the hitters a little, too. They get impatient."
Mujahid, who bats third and plays first base when not on the hill, went 1-for-2 (shot of a single to left) with a walk and twice he was hit by pitches. His one out was a liner to first base.
During one of his at-bats, Mujahid stepped out of the box and asked the umpire for time. The man in blue asked him why and Mujahid said cheerily, "I want to think about some things."
He explained later, "I get excited sometimes. Just talking now, I'm so amped. I just needed to be sure what I was doing in there."
Said coach Glen Goldberg: "Abdul is a very, very, very personable kid. He's a pleasure to have on this team and a real leader. He's set in his ways and his [deliberate] approach is one that really works for him."
Dobbins scored in every inning but the third. Wesley Brown, the football quarterback, smashed a two-run double and earned another RBI on a bases-loaded walk. So did Michael Graham and Hector Herrington. Marcellus Willoughby, Barringer and Herrington bagged RBI thanks to singles.
Mujahid said he had hoped to attend Girard Academic Music Program, but opted for Dobbins when he was not accepted. He has been granted admission to Indiana (Pa)., but is also considering Chestnut Hill and Penn State Abington.
He is a strong batter but he prefers pitching, though.
"The whole game's on me," he said. "Having to face that pressure gives me a crazy rush." *