Following a short night — which included some late night uniform cleaning — the Marlins were back at the park early this morning for picture day. The photos were taken outdoors in the middle of a one-day heat wave, but fortunately the boys didn’t have to wait in line very long.
The Highland Heights Mighty Mites baseball season started off with bang tonight!
In the field, Alan — wearing #3 for this 3rd year as a pro — played two innings in right field and two innings in center field.
At the plate, Alan provided a spark for the Marlins, going 2-for-2 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored. In his second at-bat, he recorded the first double of his career on an RBI hit down the left field line! (pictured below). The clutch performance earned Alan the game ball!
Alan was presented with the game ball during a meeting on the bench. He later said he was not expecting to be the first recipient, but he’ll gladly take the honor. The Cardinals may have defeated the Marlins, but it was definitely an Opening Night to remember. We were both incredibly proud of Alan’s performance!
Note: This year I’m the bench coach. I’ll be keeping score for the Marlins at-bats in a scorebook, even though the games are considered exhibitions until the playoffs start in July.
5/25/19 update: Alan showed off the game ball to Tata, Papa, Robbie, Jill, Debbie, Papa, Bobby, Tyler, and Carleigh today as the ball came along with us on our Saturday stops.
Alan’s summer baseball season is now underway!
Alan met his teammates on April 22nd and was thrilled to discover De’Onta is on his team! Then tonight the boys had their first organized practice. After a seemingly endless string of rained-out practices, it was great to see the sun again and hear the ping of Alan’s bat!
This year Alan is playing in the Highland Heights Mighty Mite League after transferring over from the Mayfield League. Xavier made the switch with Alan, and they’ll reunite with other Millridge kids in the league, including Grady, Noah, De’Onta, and others.
Alan’s team this year will be the Marlins. Play ball!
Tonight Alan, Xavier, and the rest of the 2018 Mighty Mites Yankees attended the annual Mayfield Boys Baseball League banquet at La Vera Party Center. Champions from all MBBL age groups were honored and prizes were raffled off.
Alan and Xavier didn’t win a prize, but they entertained themselves all evening by following the Indians-Orioles play-by-play on ESPN Gamecast (Indians won 2-1). We didn’t know about this event last year, but we’re glad we found out this year and got to be together as a team one more time!
Alan had a pretty sweet playoff debut, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI singles. Alan brought his sunglasses to the game just in case he played OF, and he actually did play RF for 4 innings. The Yankees tried their best but ultimately lost to the Red Sox 9-5 to conclude the season.
Alan was fortunate to get to play this game, as it took two rainouts on July 3rd and 5th to get this game rescheduled to a date after Alan’s trip to Vancouver (June 29th-July 7th). That also allowed Alan to play in front of Grandma Debbie, Papa, and Lulu tonight. Alan made sure to tell everyone again that Lulu was his dog.
After the game, the team took a group photo before celebrating the season with some ice cream at Dairy Queen!
At DQ, Alan joined in and ordered a vanilla cone. While Alan and his teammates were eating, the coach passed out balls and commended each player. He called Alan a “hitting machine” and said he was the fastest player on the team — a comment that Alan earned by beating out an infield hit in his first at-bat by a whisker.
But the night didn’t end there. After Dairy Queen, at Alan’s request, we went back to our favorite practice field to keep hitting and running the bases. The sun may have set on another baseball season, but it’s never too early to prepare for next season!
On 6/19/18, Alan had his first career 3-hit game! He went 3-for-3 with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored (career high) in a win over the Red Sox. Alan also caught three innings for the second straight night and played three more in LF. He was disappointed that he didn’t get a game ball after the game — that went to a player who broke a 9-9 tie with a 3-run double in the bottom of the 5th — but it made him appreciate last night’s honor even more. Grandma Debbie, Papa, and Lulu(!) were there to see the Yankees earn their first winning streak of the season. Alan proudly told his teammates that Lulu was his dog. 🙂
On 6/25/18, Alan went 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs (career high) and 1 run scored in a win over the Marlins. He also caught all 6 innings! The Yankees spotted the Marlins 5 runs before coming back to win 15-13. It was a great end to the regular season, made even better by the fact that Tyler, Carleigh, Grandma Debbie, and Papa came for the third straight Monday night. Alan LOVED having them come this season!
Alan’s cumulative season stat line reads as follows: 17-for-33 (.515) with 8 RBIs and 8 runs scored. He closed the year on an impressive 10-game hit streak and had multiple hits in six of those 10.
As a team, the Yankees closed the year with three straight victories to end the regular season at 5-6. That’s good for a third place finish out of five teams. The order of finish was Dodgers-Red Sox-Yankees-Marlins-Giants. The Yankees will open the playoffs with a 1-game showdown vs. the Red Sox. The winner will play a best of three series vs. the winner of Dodgers vs. Marlins/Giants.
Alan had his best game of the season tonight in front of Grandma Debbie, Papa, Tyler, and Carleigh. Alan earned his first career game ball and helped lead the Yankees to a win over the Giants!
At the plate, Alan singled in his first at-bat. In his second at bat, he drove in 2 runs on an RBI ground out. In his third at bat, he singled and would later come around to score. Alan was so locked in that he only saw 3 pitches over his 3 plate appearances. I coached first base for the first time this season (after being at third for all other games) and congratulated Alan each time.
Defensively, Alan caught three innings (on a very hot night) and played one more in LF. No one on the team enjoys putting on the equipment and catching right now more than Alan.
After the game, Alan and Xavier were each presented with game balls. The ump originally gave the balls to me following the last out. When I handed them to our coach, he was consulting with the stat-keeper on the most deserving recipients. I heard him say Alan, so I had my phone ready to record the video of Alan receiving the game ball. Alan had been wanting so bad to receive a game ball and tonight he got his wish. Both he and Xavier really deserved it tonight.
Afterwards Tyler and Carleigh greeted Alan with a big hug. Alan proudly showed them the game ball, then showed Grandma and Papa too. It was a very special night for Alan and he was thrilled to share it with his family!
At home Alan asked if he can have a case for his game ball, and I agreed. We’ll be displaying that ball for sure!
As the baseball season continues to move along, Alan and his team have been making good progress. Here’s the latest update:
Following a rain-out on 5/22/18, Alan went 1-for-3 in a win over the Marlins – the team’s first victory of the season! – on 5/29/18. Starting with this game, the team starting playing the same positions regularly. Alan is the team’s consistent right fielder.
On 5/30/18, Alan again went 1-for-3 in a loss to the Red Sox. Alan has been learning that when he hits the ball towards the left side of the infield he can usually beat out a hit, but it’s a lot harder to reach first base safely on a grounder to the right side of the infield. But he’s been doing a great job putting the ball in play all season.
On 6/4/18, Alan went 1-for-3 with a run scored in a thrilling 1-run win over the Giants! The highlight of the game was when Alan and Xavier manufactured a run by themselves in the middle innings. With two outs and nobody on base, Alan singled and advanced to second base on an errant throw that only barely got away from the first baseman. Then Xavier singled home Alan, who hustled home to score on a ball that never left the infield!
On 6/11/18, Alan went 2-for-4 with a run and a 9-4-3 outfield assist(!) in the 1st inning of a narrow loss to the league-leading Dodgers (He helped catch a runner caught between first and second). The highlight of Alan’s game, though, was Grandma Debbie, Papa, Tyler and Carleigh coming to watch him play. Alan was very proud to play in front of his family!
On 6/12/18, Alan went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI in a loss to the Dodgers. One of the Yankee coaches commented to Alan that he must have been practicing because he’s been making good contact at the plate. It’s true in fact — all week Alan has been practicing in the backyard with his “Nagoon.” One hitting session in the morning and one in the afternoon. Despite the loss, the Yankees played well against the league-leading Dodgers for two straight nights and were upbeat after the game.
On 6/13/18, Alan went 2-for-2 with an RBI in a loss to the Marlins. The team looked worn out from its 3rd game in 3 days, but Alan did his part to bring the energy at the plate and behind it. He made his debut at catcher and caught all 4 innings of the shortened game (run spread rule). He enjoyed catching so much that he wants to catch the next game too!
The Mayfield Mighty Mites baseball season is officially underway! Alan’s team — the Yankees — played through a rain-soaked and shortened opener on 5/12/18. Then they were rained out completely on 5/14/18. So today’s game (5/21/18) felt more like the true kick-off to the season.
Updates and stats will be shared here all season long. Here’s the breakdown so far:
On 5/12/18, Alan put two balls in play but was retired on great plays by fielders. In the field, he played RF and pitcher’s helper, as the coach likes his ability to field ground balls. The result of the game was a loss to the Giants.
Today, 5/21/18, Alan went 2-for-3 with two singles and a fielder’s choice ground-out. He was excited to run the bases three times, and even scored from 2nd on a single for his first run scored of the season. I coached third and waved him home! In the field, he played RF and LF and got the ball into the infield quickly on a couple hits. The result of the game was a loss to the Red Sox.
Note: Alan is wearing #2 for the Yankees this year, which he wanted because it’s his second year playing in an organized baseball league. He wore #1 last year.
This weekend was the first weekend of spring with warm weather and no rain, and Alan took full advantage. He practiced hitting at the community park on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, with a Saturday morning team practice mixed in between. After practicing hitting, Alan played at the nearby playground – one of this favorites – each time.
Also, on Saturday night, Alan played outside by Grandma Debbie’s pond with Tyler and Carleigh. Alan’s favorite part was throwing rocks into the pond. Alan found it funny when one of Tyler’s throws didn’t go far enough and splashed them both with mud.
It won’t be long until Alan will get to play outside every weekend!
Last night LeBron James hit a walk-off, game winner in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals to put the Cavs up 3-0 on the Raptors. If it looked familiar, that’s because someone else banked in an angled shot from a similar spot on the court earlier this season.
Who shot it better – Alan or LeBron?
Alan was asleep at the time LeBron made his shot, but he watched part of the first quarter at Grandma Debbie’s house. Now that Alan understands how an NBA champion is determined, he’s been excited to update his NBA playoffs bracket as teams advance. He can’t wait to move the Cavaliers forward again!
First grade – Part III – edition of the Top 10:
-Playing MBBL baseball! (Practice kicked off this past Saturday – photo above)
-Texting. Yes, it’s true. Particularly with Dad, Mom, Grandma Debbie, and Shane. Alan loves sending emojis!
-Playing cards with Grandma Debbie, Tyler, and Carleigh
-Hiding rocks in the snow outside the Golden Gate Gardens apartment and creating a “treasure map” to document how to locate them
-Hanging out with friends – Josh, Noah, and Brady in the past few weekends alone
-Championship races on the Super Ultimate Garage racetrack! (still a huge favorite)
-Dancing to Kidz Bop music at school — and later watching the classroom videos that Mrs. Russo posts on Twitter
-Racing cars down our long hallway
-Ice Skating and Swimming
-Building train cities! (photo below)
Alan kicked off year 2 of his Mayfield Boys Baseball League (MBBL) career today at the Wildcat Fitness Center. This season Alan has moved up to the Mighty Mite division (7-8 year olds), after playing in the Instructional division (5-6 year olds) last season. It’s still a coach-pitch division, but it’s a step up in competition.
Today Alan came in for a talent evaluation. He started off by fielding grounders, throwing to a coach, and catching pop-ups.
Afterwards, Alan took some batting practice in the batting cages. He did pretty well for his first swings of the season.
Alan was thrilled to see first grade classmates Logan and Jonah at the Fitness Center. He also saw two teammates from last season – Chris and Connor. It figures to be another fun summer on the diamond!
The LBJ Basketball season came to a close today following the season finale vs. the Celtics. For this game the kids were on their own, as coaches had to stay on the sidelines. And stealing was allowed and the score was kept. But the team was ready. And I finally the opportunity to record some game action.
Alan played confidently, making good passes and taking strong shot attempts.
He hustled back on defense too, like he always does.
Alan closed out the scoring for the Heat’s season by converting on his best-looking and highest-arcing shot attempt of the season with about half of a minute remaining on the game clock (Note: He scored the team’s first basket of the season, too). Fortunately I was able to capture Alan’s successful bank shot – his 13th made field goal of the season — as I shouted “Yes!” in the background. Look at the joy in Alan’s reaction! 🙂
After the final buzzer sounded, the Heat huddled up one last time for their “Go Heat!” battle cry. Then it was off to a postgame subs-and-juice party for the team, where the coach passed out certificates and photos. It was a well-earned reward for the kids.
The backstory to the game included Alan battling a fever since Friday night. He stayed inside all day on Saturday to rest up to help his chances of being able to play. He needed Tylenol to get through the game, but he wasn’t going to miss it for anything. He loves playing basketball.
It’s incredible to think how far Alan has come from the first practice in November through now. He worked through early nerves and uncertainty that he could ever make a basket and transformed into a confident player able to knock down shots during competition. It’s been so rewarding to see him grow! I tell him every week he’s my favorite player to watch play. LeBron’s got nothing on Alan.
Here are the highlights of the second half of the basketball season:
2/4/18: No game. Alan’s team had the week off, but a play from the prior week — where Alan caught a hot pass from a teammate (Wyatt) and scored — was talked about by Alan and me all week. After I showed Alan video of LeBron’s game-winning shot to beat the T-Wolves at the buzzer on 2/7/18, Alan commented on how Jeff Green’s pass to LeBron was just like Wyatt and Alan’s play. After Alan shared his take on the play, it will likely now go down in family lore — just like the time Alan hit a baseball off the roof of the apartment. That happened last summer, but we talk about that like it was yesterday. 🙂
2/11/18 vs Thunder: Alan was miraculously held scoreless by the all-world Thunder D, but he impacts the game in other ways – most notably with his good passing. Alan brought the ball up the court and set up the offense several times in the game.
2/18/18 vs Cavs: Alan played his best game of the season, highlighted by four made baskets! He scored once in the first quarter, twice in the third quarter (including at the buzzer), and once in fourth quarter. It was an intense game due to one kid on the opposing team being both too skilled and too physical for the league. Early in the third quarter, Alan got banged into by him. But Alan shook it off, stayed in the game, and went on to score three of his four baskets after getting hurt.
2/25/18 vs Lakers: Alan once again provided instant offense, opening the game with the first basket for the Heat. He would later score again early in the third quarter. I filled in as head coach (promoted from assistant), so I’ll take credit for calling Alan’s number. Robbie was in the audience to see Alan’s two baskets. The best moment for me was when Alan put his arm around me when I was kneeling for the end of game team huddle. It was the same hug I felt when I took a photo with Alan at Millridge last month when he was the student of the week. I also felt it back when I visited him on Sports Day at Millridge in March 2017.
All of these games were 11:30am starts (first wave of games), so Alan wanted us to arrive before the rest of the team to practice on the open court. It was fun playing 1-on-1 with him!
It’s time for a midseason update:
1/7/18 vs Cavs: In his debut contest, Alan scored two baskets, including the Heat’s first basket of the season on the first shot attempt of his career. He also scored in the 3rd quarter. I loved being out on the court with Alan and seeing the pride on his face after making that first shot.
1/14/18 vs Pacers: Alan again scored two baskets, opening both the 2nd and 4th quarters with made shots (and fist pumps). I might have to start calling him “The Microwave” because of his potential for instant offense!
1/21/18 vs Blazers: Despite getting hit by a stray ball pregame and getting kicked (inadvertently) during the game, Alan recovered to score a basket in the 4th quarter. Alan learned about toughing out games and playing hurt.
1/28/18 vs Knicks: In front of an audience that included Grandma Debbie, Papa, Tata, and Papa #2, Alan kept his ‘consecutive games with a made basket’ streak alive by converting a shot near the start of the 4th quarter. Alan was back to his enthusiastic self on the court, and he was especially excited to participate in a jump ball for the first time.
According to Alan, basketball has now pulled even with baseball as his favorite sport.
Today Alan completed the final practice session before league play begins in 2 weeks. He’ll be playing for the Heat this winter!
Alan’s pretty proud of himself for how far he’s come already this season. He can make baskets pretty consistently in the layup line, he can jog while dribbling, and he can slide his feet on defense. The uncertainty he felt before his first practice was ancient history today when he described basketball as “a lot of fun” after his last practice.
Alan can name all the areas on a court now after we’ve been studying a diagram of a basketball court. And Alan’s coach called him the best listener he’s ever seen.
He’s got a second favorite sport to go along with baseball now!
Alan’s first season in the Mayfield LBJ basketball league is officially underway! Alan has worn his lucky Cavs Championship shirt to the first few sessions. It must be bringing him good luck because today he made his first ever shot on the big hoop!
My camera was fortunately in hand, so here’s his form on the shot:
Alan’s friends playing in the league include Noah, Grady, Anton, Joshua, and De’Onta. Alan partnered with De’Onta to work on bounce passes.
Alan has wrapped-up his rookie year in the Mayfield Boys’ Baseball League. Here’s a recap of the second half of the season:
6/9 – Alan goes 3-for-3 and plays 3B and P. He makes his mark fielding from the pitcher position, and is established as a regular there – a prime fielding position for this league.
6/16 – Alan goes 3-for-3 and plays 2B and P. After the game, Alan discovers that I’m the one who has been bringing the marker board for the lineup to each game. He proceeds to borrow it and write notes — including his own version of the team’s batting order. 🙂
6/23 – Game rained out.
6/30 – Alan goes 1-for-1 and plays 2B before the rain comes and postpones the game after one inning played. Alan finishes the season batting 1.000!
It was a great debut season for Alan in MBBL play. I loved coaching third, managing the lineup for the kids, and standing in the field with Alan. Next summer Alan will move up to the league for 7 & 8 year-olds. He’s ready!
We’ve reached the midpoint in Alan’s rookie year in the Mayfield Boys’ Baseball League. Here’s a recap of the games to date:
5/13 – Alan goes 2-for-2 and plays 2B. He gets a big kick out of me waving him home for the first time (it was the first time he’s seen the motion of a 3B coach).
5/19 – Alan goes 3-for-3 and plays 2B and 3B. At 2B, he fields a hot shot grounded on a real nice play.
5/26 – Game rained out.
6/2 – Alan bats leadoff and goes 4-for-4 with his whole family in attendance. He plays SS and P, where the ball finds him on several occasions. Alan continues to field the routine grounders. He’s also commended for helping up players off the ground, including his new buddy and teammate, Tommy.
Alan made his Mayfield Instructional League debut today in the 5 and 6 year-olds “coach-pitch” division. He played great, getting two solid hits to left field and splitting time at pitcher’s helper and second base in the field. Alan was excited to receive quite a few grounders from the pitcher’s helper position. And he encountered best friend Grady while covering second.
Alan plays for the Village Vet Clinic team and the opener was against the Mo Vaughn Trucking team. Yes, that Mo Vaughn – the former Red Sox, Angel, and Met first baseman who slugged 328 home runs between 1991 and 2003. Alan and I both shook his hand in the handshake line following the game.
Final score: A 16-16 tie.
Tonight Alan’s first season of baseball came to a close after a very successful six weeks. Alan really showed improvement in hitting (both with and without a tee), throwing, and – most especially – catching balls in his glove. He also learned the “ready position” for fielding and started to pick up the rules of the game.
Most importantly, his interest and enthusiasm for the game has continued to grow. Alan got to hit leadoff the past two games because he was the quickest to get in line to hit. He also got to pick his position in the field by always being the first one to run out of the dugout.
I personally loved getting to play the field and run the bases with Alan during games. We’ll continue to practice together this summer, but I already can’t wait for next season!
Note 1: Just over Alan’s shoulder you can see his fan club: Debbie, Papa, Tata, Papa, and Lulu.
Note 2: Pictures were taken 6/9/16; Video of handshake line recorded 6/2/16.
Tonight Alan kicked off his Little League baseball career at the first practice for Mayfield’s “Little Sluggers.” Alan had a blast practicing hitting off a tee, catching pop-ups, taking grounders, running sprints, running more sprints, and ending practice with a cheer!
Alan is a member of the Tigers, which he got a kick out of since that’s his favorite animal. His best friend from preschool, Joshua, is on the White Sox and his neighborhood friend, William, is on the Royals. Alan was thrilled to find out they were playing in the league this summer!