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Thank you, Ms. Gorman: Orioles' Trey Mancini to honor third-grade teacher during Players' Weekend

When the Orioles play their three-day, four-game home series against the New York Yankees starting Friday night at Camden Yards, they will be wearing special uniforms for Major League Baseball’s Players’ Weekend. On the backs of their jerseys, their last names will be replaced by nicknames selected by each player.

In a “Thank You patch” on their right sleeve, players have selected one person to recognize as influential in their lives or career.

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While most players select a family member, a coach, or an iconic or favorite player growing up, Orioles outfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini’s patch will honor a different but equally meaningful person in his life — his third-grade teacher.

“I thought this would be a cool way to honor her and kind of show that teachers even at that age can have a tremendous impact on kids,” Mancini said.

Mancini will write “Ms. Gorman” on his patch for Eileen Gorman, whose classroom lessons at St. Joseph Catholic School in Winter Haven, Fla., still remain close to Mancini, even after Gorman passed away from heart failure 14 years ago at the age of 70.

“She was awesome,” Mancini said before Wednesday’s game in Toronto. “She told the coolest stories ever. She passed away a while back. I think about her a lot and I’m always thankful for her and all the lessons she taught me. … I really don’t know if I’d be here today without here because she implemented a lot of confidence in me when, at the time going in, I was pretty intimidated and scared. But by end of that year, it had changed a lot, and it was all due to her.”

Mancini said that going into third grade, he heard horror stories about his future teacher, a former nun from Ireland who had a reputation for being mean and strict from some of the older kids who had been her students. Mancini was already worried about third grade because it was the first year that his school issued grades beyond pass-fail.

When Mancini began to struggle in Ms. Gorman’s class, she pulled him aside and gave him what Mancini described as “tough love.”

“I struggled on the first few assignment and my tests,” Mancini said. “I was really in my head, and I remember her telling me, ‘I’m not going to let you redo this. You just have to get with the program here and get it going,’ and I did. I just kind of learned how to be a better student pretty quickly. And we just had a great connection throughout the year.”

Mancini said he finished the school year with straight A’s

“I think I had some growing up to do, and it was the first time in my life when I really faced some type of adversity because I cared a lot about how I did in school,” he said. “She kind of showed me some tough love, but she also showed me that I could get through it. … She was the first person besides my parents who could see my doing something good with my life and she always told me that and it made me believe that.”

He said one of his lasting memories of Gorman was hearing a discussion she had with his mother, Beth, late in the school year.

“She shook her hand and she told her, ‘He’s going to do something really good one day. I don’t know if it’s going to be with sports or with his mind, but he’s going to do something,’ ” Mancini said. “I remember sitting there and hearing that, and it was pretty cool for me to hear.”

From there, Mancini understood the importance of education, something he parents also instilled in him. Even as a third grader, Mancini wanted to go to the University of Notre Dame, and Ms. Gorman encouraged that even though most people assumed Mancini would play college baseball in his home state of Florida.

Mancini followed his dream of playing at Notre Dame, and even though he left after his junior season, he took classes after his minor league seasons ended and earned his degree in political science in 2016.

“A lot of times you remember things from your childhood, people encouraging you, people who supported you, and that even now helps you get through tough times, too,” Mancini said. “I can’t say enough about her. It’s funny, just about the tall tales I heard about how strict she was and tough she was. I think it was exactly what I needed and I think it helped my academic career and my life.”

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