By Marc Schoder
Portales native Iszac Valdez has been living and breathing baseball since the age of 2 years old.
This lifestyle continues this weekend for Valdez, now 12. He will be playing with the Amarillo Diamondbacks when they go to New York this weekend for the Cooperstown Tournament.
“The tournament is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these boys,” said Russell Webb, one of three coaches for the 12-year-old little league baseball team. “The boys are now ready to play.”
The tournament officially opens Saturday, with games starting on Sunday and going through July 15.
“Iszac was selected for this team after he had tried out for it,” said Natasha Valdez, Iszac’s mother. The Portales native’s parents had him trying out in Amarillo so that the young 12-year-old would get to see more competition.
“We had him go to try out in Amarillo to give him more exposure to other kids who may or may not be better than him,” said Natasha Valdez. “This way he knew what he was going up against.”
Valdez started playing baseball when he was two years old, because of his father Jeremy’s love for the game.
“Iszac’s father Jeremy played baseball in high school at Raton High School, college at Kansas and at a semi-pro level,” said Natasha Valdez. “Since he was very young he was wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps of being a catcher.”
Valdez said that most night you can see Jeremy and Iszac practicing different baseball drills (like hitting off tees) while outside on the practice football field.
“Most people will see them out there practicing every day, unless Iszac is sick or we are giving him a rest from a tournament,” said Natasha Valdez.
“When I had originally tried out for the team, I had a feeling that I would make it,” said Iszac Valdez. “I have a dream of continuing to play baseball and going all the way to the major leagues.”
Thanks to hard work put in by Iszac, the Amarillo Diamondbacks have made him their starting catcher.
“Iszac is a huge team player,” said Webb. “When Iszac first tried out, I saw a really good catcher with skills beyond the average 12-year-old.”
Webb adds that he has a strong throwing arm as well as being a strong hitter.