A lot of kids grow up playing sports, especially baseball. They play on little league teams, with parents in the stands cheering. Sophomore first baseman Yonder Alonso did just the same, but he was also lucky enough to watch his father play catcher and first base professionally in Cuba. Alonso spent his childhood cheering on his father. Now the tables have turned, and Alonso’s father is the one who sits in the stands and watches his son start for the Miami Hurricanes.
At the age of eight, Alonso moved to Hialeah, Fla. For years he played ball with current teammates, such as pitcher Jason Santana and second baseman Jemile Weeks.
“We’ve grown up together,” Alonso said. “We know each other and how we play.”
Alonso admits he didn’t know much about college baseball growing up, but he knew he wanted to get recruited for a respected Division I team. He and Weeks, among others, pushed each other to play better from a young age and the result of their strong fundamental knowledge of the game and advanced skill level is a spot on the No.5 team in the country.
But landing a spot in a top collegiate club isn’t the only thing that Alonso has already accomplished. As a freshman, Alonso was part of the ‘Canes team that beat ‘Ole Miss in the Super Regionals, a significant win that led Miami to its 22nd College World Series berth. He went 1-4 in that game with one RBI.
“I felt like that was something huge for me,” Alonso said. “Coming here, the goal was to play in the College World Series, and last year we did that.”
With a roster that has promising young talent like the ‘Canes do, it will most likely not be Alonso’s last trip to Omaha.
On top of his performances on the field, Alonso has also proved that he can meet the academic challenges at the University. He was named a UM Bookbuster after achieving a GPA above 3.0 in his first semester.
Like many athletes, Alonso is quite superstitious when it comes to his sport.
“Oh man, we could talk about [superstitions] all day,” he said.
After the win against ‘Ole Miss, Alonso told his parents to watch the College World Series games with the same exact people at home, believing that their position during the game had something to do with his success.
Every time Alonso warms up, he does the same stretches. He takes the same road to campus on the way to a game and parks in the same spot. Unless, that is, he has a bad game and then his whole routine changes. He’ll pick a different parking spot or maybe avoid US-1 on the way to school and take a completely different route.
So far this season, however, Alonso has been parking in the same spot. He is 4-6 with a home run in Miami’s two losses and maintains a batting average of .667, showing that he can be a threat in the middle of the ‘Canes lineup.
Despite the excitement of his young college career, Alonso remains focused on his future goals.
“Of course, I think every baseball player [has aspirations in the Major Leagues],” Alonso said. “I want that chance. It’s very hard, but I feel like I could do it.”
Yonder’s 2007 Stats
G AB R HR RBI AVG OPS
5 13 6 3 7 .615 2.016
statistics in bold denote team leader
Patrick Pineyro may be contacted at email@example.com.