Hi SI Kids, as many of you know I spent my summer continuing my quest to go to all 30 MLB ballparks. This summer I traveled to Cincinnati, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, and Tampa Bay. In Tampa Bay I visited a family friend who I hadn’t seen in 11 years. His name is Little Eddy Castellanos and he plays for the Florida Battalion. I had the opportunity to go with him and his team to Tropicana Field to see the Rays vs. Yankees. His team, the Battalion, was being recognized for their outstanding season. Eddy got me thinking about youth baseball. When I arrived home it was time to write and I knew I wanted to write about youth baseball and Little Eddy.
Youth baseball is a very popular sport and continues to grow around the world. Many kids from all over the world love to watch and play baseball. It is a sport that both boys and girls can play, on softball or baseball teams. There are a lot of different youth baseball leagues across the country like American Baseball, Babe Ruth League, Cal Ripken, which is a branch of Babe Ruth, Little League Baseball, Pony Baseball, Dizzy Dan, and USSSA. I decided I wanted to write about USSSA because that is the league that Little Eddy plays in. I am also interested in Little League because I visited the Little League Hall of Fame in Williamsport, Pennsylvania last summer with my family.
According to the USSSA website, the goal of the league is to have kids of all skill levels compete against each other. USSSA believes that everyone, regardless of his or her skill level, should have a chance to play. I agree with USSSA. Many kids want to play baseball but it’s too hard because they don’t know enough about rules or fundamentals of the game. USSSA will help anyone interested in baseball to learn. USSSA is spilt into four different categories: Major Division, AAA Division, AA Division and A Division.
Little Eddy plays in the Major League division of USSSA on the Florida Battalion. The Florida Battalion is located out of Trinity, Florida. The Battalion is made of 12 great baseball players who were selected from 90 boys that tried out. This year the boys went 92-30 with a USSSA power ranking of 1271. They had 10 first-place tournament victories, winning tournaments like ESPN Primetime IV, UFC V - Ultimate FL Championship, C FL Showdown IX - War on I-4, and USSSA Tampa Bay Classic II. The highlight of the summer for the Battalion was going to the USSSA Elite World Series where they came in second place. I am sure they were all proud of this amazing accomplishment.
Eddy and I had not seen each other since we were both under a year old and our parents put us in my crib together. We did some catching up during the Rays/Yankees game and hung out for a couple of days in Tampa. I got Eddy in the hot seat and asked him about the Battalion and some of his favorite things about baseball.
Haley: What brand of bat do you use and what glove do you use?
Lil’ Eddy:: An Easton bat and a custom MTZ outfielders glove I won at the Cecil Fielder Tournament for my performance during the tournament.
Haley: How old where you when you stared playing baseball?
Lil’ Eddy: 5.
Haley: I know you play outfield and pitcher. Which one do you like better?
Lil’ Eddy: I like playing both but I am going to say outfielder.
Haley: What MLB player do you look up to?
Lil’ Eddy: Robbie Cano.
Haley: What is your biggest achievement so far?
Lil’ Eddy: This summer, making it to the USSSA Elite World Series.
Haley: If you get to Major Leagues, what team would you like to play for?
Lil’ Eddy: Baltimore Orioles.
Haley: What was has been your favorite tournament you have played in so far?
Lil’ Eddy: Either the Cecil Fielder or the World Series.
Haley: What’s your favorite place you’ve played?
Lil’ Eddy: California.
Haley: Do you play any other sports?
Lil’ Eddy: No not really.
Haley: I don’t think he has much time for anything other then baseball and school.
Haley: What advice would you give to your teammates and younger kids?
Lil’ Eddy: Never get down on yourself.
Eddy had a very good year. He led his team in walks and had a batting average of .347. His on base percentage was .495 in 190 plate appearances. Eddy and the Battalion just started their fall season and I am sure he will continue to do well.
The fall youth baseball season has also started in New York and my little brother Ethan is playing on The Comets, a Westside Little League team. I am his third base coach, so I will continue to learn more about youth baseball.
Enjoy playing and watching baseball, especially the postseason, and have a great start to your school year.