Friday, 21 October 2011
Two of the New Zealand’s best young baseball players received the thrill of a lifetime recently in Seattle when New York Yankeescenterfielder Curtis Granderson invited the two former Auckland players onto the field with one of the most famous baseball team in the world. Joe Boyce (Bayside Westhaven Baseball Club, Auckland) and Dewald De Klerk (Howick Pakuranga Baseball Club, Auckland), both 17 years old, moved to Seattle in January to play high school baseball and a full season game schedule. The young ballplayers met Granderson earlier this year when the superstar centerfielder spent nearly two weeks in New Zealand promoting the game of baseball.Granderson has kept in contact with the young Kiwi prospects since his return to America, and as his home run continued to rise, so too did Granderson’s kind gifts and opportunities for Boyce and De Klerk. Boyce and De Klerk recently transferred to Mount Si High School, just east of Seattle in Washington, where they also play for the Northwest Bandits and Chaffey Baseball, two of the top programmes in the entire Seattle region for ballplayers their age.
Yankees captain Jeter told the young New Zealanders they were the ‘famous guys back in New York’ due to the number of times that their images were shown on the scoreboard in the Bronx from Granderson’s well-publicised trip to New Zealand.
Both Boyce (Sacred Heart College) and De Klerk (Botany Downs Secondary School) acknowledge how fortunate they’ve been since their time working with Granderson in Auckland earlier this year, and how appreciative they are that one of the game’s top-rated players and truly good guys has stayed in touch with them and Baseball New Zealand.
The remarkable experience that Granderson provided both young men continues a special year for both baseball players.
They’ve played a lengthy schedule of games across the country in America’s summer and early autumn, and the highlight of their year was taking part in a Chaffey Baseball tour that travelled to the ‘Battle of Omaha’ baseball tournament in Nebraska where they went undefeated in winning this prestigious invitational tournament.
Although baseball is a major focus for the young Kiwis, both players had a dual reason for leaving their club baseball teams and colleges in Auckland.
Both have aspirations to attend an American university in the USA when they graduate from high school, and top marks in the classroom are crucial to their long-term goals. Their days are long, filled with early start times for school, study, training and games.
There are few days off, but they both realise how far this American-based path could take them in America’s pastime.
Baseball New Zealand wish them all the best on their journey.