Residents Of Gary, Ind., Look Up To One Another

Residents of Gary, Ind., attend a playoff game for the RailCats

hide captionResidents of Gary, Ind., attend a playoff game for their minor league baseball team, the RailCats.

David Gilkey/NPR

Although Gary, Ind., may be struggling economically, the city's minor-league baseball team just made it to the playoffs.

Residents are crowded into the RailCats' stadium, which sits near the railroad tracks. Tickets to the game cost $7 apiece.

Bill Terlecky is the general manager of the team. He says that drawing people to games can be tough, since Gary is known as a rough town. "Because of that aura that surrounds Gary a little bit, it causes us to work a little harder to convince people it's OK to come up here," he says. "At the end of the day, we're not splitting the atom. We're not curing cancer. It's a minor league baseball team."

NPR visited the Indiana baseball game as part of a road trip called "Take Me To Your Leader." The trip is an attempt to get away from the hype surrounding the political conventions in Denver and St. Paul — and to talk to people (and leaders) from Chicago to Phoenix.

Another baseball game attendee is Deborah Lewis. She goes by the nickname "Ms. Fantastic," because she considers herself a great cook and listener. When asked to name a leader in her life, she says she looks up to her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Lewis tries to visit her often to bring her candy.

"I can tell she's glad to see me — her eye movement and stuff — and sometimes, you know, she answers me when I talk to her," she says.

Nearby, a 26-year-old named Laurie is handing out free foam baseballs to fans. Laurie works for the RailCats, but has some Major League dreams.

"My dream job is to work for the Cubs and be their general manager," she says. Her idol is the general manager, Terlecky, whom she calls "a great boss and a great role model."

Next up: Take Me To Your Leader heads to Missouri. If you have a suggestion for an interesting place, or want to nominate a person you consider a leader in your community, e-mail meetyourleaders@npr.org.

Produced by Thomas Pierce.

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