In the universal family of baseball even fierce competitors build friendships that last entire playing careers and beyond. Classic rivals have always formed within the same teams as well as on opposing teams. Many morphed into classic friendships during and after their playing days. Among them, NY Giants’ manager John McGraw and ace pitcher Christy Mathewson, NY Yankees’ manager Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson come to mind. Among players, the NBA’s Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson, and the NFL’s Chuck Bednarik vs. Everybody all carved out a piece of history for themselves.
All bitter rivals on the field, they became and remained close friends off the field. They all left their marks as members of a universal family of sports competitors. In baseball friendships like these happen every season. Luke Beckles, the Bears’ 5’1” 93 lb. P-SS, understands this. He enjoys playing baseball “because it’s a team sport and you can also build friendships for a lifetime.”
Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera formed a virtually unbeatable nucleus of the Yankees’ championship teams of the 1990s and early 2000s. In addition to being part of that family of Yankee greats, Luke names them as his favorite professional players “because Jeter is very competitive and Rivera is the best closing pitcher ever.” He knows the importance of competing together in pursuit of a common goal.
On tournament travel teams Luke has “played in Diamond Nation, Big Bang Blast, Sports at the Beach, the Bergen County Charity Classic,” and now Cooperstown Baseball World. “It’s a great experience to play other teams from other states.” An even better experience is winning those games. He cites his best game to date as “when I pitched a shutout as a 12 year-old…which put us in the playoffs.”
Just as good genes flow within families from one generation to the next, Luke’s promise as a ball player has grown from one year to the next. “As an 8 year-old I received the rising star trophy.” Four years later, that prophecy has proven accurate. It stands to reason, then, that his goals as a player are “to continue to improve and to keep learning.” As part of the universal family of baseball, Luke Beckles has as good a chance to realize his goals as anyone in the brethren of the sport.