By Cary Shuman
Jonathan Reyes is 8 years old and loves to play baseball. And his career is certainly off to an auspicious start.
While competing in the All-America Youth Baseball Games in Samford, Fla. last week, Jonathan helped lead his team to the championship game of the national tournament.
The son of Sergio Reyes and Colleen Reyes and a third grader at the Abraham Lincoln School, Jonathan excelled as an outfielder and scored a key run in the championship game.
Interestingly, Jonathan was the only Massachusetts player on the team that had 8, 9, and 10-year-old players from New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Florida. Jonathan was one of the youngest players in the entire tournament.
He was selected to the All-America tournament after having his skills evaluated by a panel of national youth baseball coaches.
“We were notified in November that he had been selected and it was exciting,” said Sergio, who came to the United States in 2002 from Cuba where he studied baseball.
In addition to playing baseball in 80-degree weather in the month of December, Jonathan said he enjoyed competing in all five of his team’s games and playing baseball for the first time under the lights. He received a silver medal for his team’s second-place finish, a baseball ring, and an official All-America baseball jersey.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Jonathan, whose favorite player is David “Big Papi” Ortiz. “I got to play first base, third base, right field, center field, and left field. I also made some new friends.”
Sergio said the All-American tournament was “an excellent learning experience” for his son to compete against older players from around the country, including Florida, where baseball is a year-round game.
“It was a really good experience,” said Sergio. “He met coaches and players and learned some new techniques. The competition was at a high level and he batted against a pitcher who threw the ball 65-70 miles per hour. The baseball fields were beautiful. I’m proud of how my son played in the tournament.”
Though winter has begun in New England, Jonathan won’t be away from the baseball diamond for long. He and his father will travel to Arizona in February for a national tournament. He also trains in the off-season at the RBI Facility in Foxboro.
Jonathan began playing baseball at the age of four in the Revere Little League T-Ball Division. He will ply first base on the Nationals team coached by his father in the Revere Youth Baseball League at the new St. Mary’s fields.
“He loves the game as do I,” said Sergio. “He’s having fun and that’s the most important thing. He’s looking forward to playing baseball in Revere this summer and I’m looking forward to coaching.”