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Philo earns rare honor following performance

Nate Philo may never make it to baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown,N.Y., but the 18-year-old Medford Mustangs center fielder's uniform is headedthere.

Philo is the 49th American Legion baseball Player of the Year and recipientof the George W. Rulon award. Each winner's jersey is displayed in baseball'smost hallowed hall.

The selection is made on the basis of integrity, mental attitude,cooperation, citizenship, sportsmanship, general good conduct and playingability, according to the American Legion World Wide Web site.

They said there are 4,982 American Legion teams, and you multiplythat by 16 or 17 kids a team and you get a good idea how big this is,Medford Mustangs general manager Don Schneider said.

Philo also collected the Rawlings Big Stick Award for the most totalbases in the Legion World Series and Regionals and the Louisville Sluggerbatting champion award and a $3,000 scholarship.

I was just playing with the joy of the Lord, Philo said ina phone interview Wednesday while waiting to catch a flight out of RapidCity, S.D. There were so many other teams that would've loved to bein our shoes. I was able to relax and play and go with any pitch thrown.My dad came over to the tournament, and he's driving back with all the plaques.

In 11 games, Philo hit a tournament-leading .520. In 50 at-bats, he doubled11 times, tripled twice and homered once for 44 total bases, while drivingin 12 runs and stealing four bases.

The home run launched a seven-run inning in Medford's 12-2 victory overSanford, Fla., that brought the Mustangs to the brink of the title.

When they asked me how many home runs I had hit in the Series,I don't think they knew that it was just my second all year, Philosaid. I was pretty amazed. It was probably the best contact I madeall year. I thought it was going to hit the fence and then the guy stoppedrunning and I knew it was going out. I picked a good time.

Philo will soon begin classes at Azusa Pacific University in SouthernCalifornia, carrying fond memories from the Series.