Editor’s Note: In 2015, The Child Center of NY joined with Major League Baseball and community members to form Far Rockaway RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), bringing little league baseball—and the values of teamwork, sportsmanship, fitness, and perseverance that go with it—back to the peninsula, where it had been missing for years. A mere year later, Far Rockaway RBI was invited to participate in MLB’s All-Star Youth Classic.
I was picked to go to San Diego, California, and was a part of the All-Star Youth Classic. I was so excited, first to go to a different state, and also to play baseball with other people. The farthest I’d been before that was Upstate New York for three days.
Then I realized that I had to take a plane. This was one of my fears. I do not know why, just the thought of the plane crashing.
When we arrived at John F. Kennedy airport, I was slightly frightened of the plane ride because I had never been on a plane. At 9:00 we were on the plane. It wasn’t so bad. It was a smooth and comfortable flight.
When we landed in California, I thought, this is beautiful. It was so hot and sunny. Soon we arrived at the San Diego University and we sat down for the opening ceremony and then off to the dorms. I was kind of nervous to meet so many new people. And then I realized that a lot of them were talking about us, Far Rockaway RBI. They seemed surprised we were there. I think maybe we weren’t supposed to go. Other kids were saying, “They don’t know how to play baseball, they never played before.” But I knew that we would have a great time if we listened and stuck to the plan.
The next day we took on the Chicago Cubs. We lost. But actually, we felt like we won because we worked our hardest and we learned from the experience. We did better than we thought we would.
Throughout the weekend, we kept getting better and better. The second day we versed the Cardinals. We lost that game, too, but we really enjoyed playing them. They were nice and were always chanting, supporting their team. We started chanting on our teammates, too, helping each other step up, and we played better than the day before.
The next game was against the Slaterettes. We almost beat them, but we lost.
Then we went up against the Padres. That’s when I made a home run. But that wasn’t even the most exciting part. That happened later, in the last inning. The score was really close. The ball came straight to me and I thought, this could be my moment. I caught the ball. The runners on first and second base ran from their bases but once the ball was caught they were supposed to return to their bases, which they did not. I then tagged second base and threw to first base. That meant three outs and the crowd went wild. I had made a triple play, and we tied the game. That was my favorite memory of the trip.
This whole thing helped me grow not just as a baseball player or as an athlete, but as a person. Sometimes things don’t come so easy, but you have to work hard to reach your goal. Then it might come easier next time. I learned that it takes one thing to be a baseball player, but it’s another thing to actually show that you’re a hard worker and you have courage, and you’re not in it for the fame or the hype. My coaches, Renee, Skeeter, Coach Ghosh, and Coach Sean are amazing;. they all couldn’t come to San Diego, but they all helped me learn these lessons and are greatly appreciated.
Even though we lost a lot of games, we showed we played together as a team. It doesn’t matter who wins the game. It’s about who works the hardest to achieve a goal, and the goal was to have fun and have a good experience. I felt like when I struck out, it got me closer to the home run, and in the last game I actually made a home run. I set a goal, I persevered, and I accomplished it.