In competitive sports, smaller players always have to work harder than the bigger players. Standing at 5’8” ‘Rocket’ Rod Laver was one of the shortest players in his sport, but he developed a wickedly powerful tennis serve that few could match when he played. Anthony Jerome ‘Spud’ Webb, standing at 5’6”, not only won an NBA slam dunk contest, but he did it in a league where players’ average height is 6’7”, over a foot taller than Spud stood in his high-tops. Journeyman LHP Bobby ‘The Cat’ Shantz stood 5’6”, played 15 years in MLB and posted a lifetime 119-99 won-lost record, to go with 1,072 strikeouts and a 3.38 ERA. Shantz’ best year came in 1952 when he won MVP in the American League with a 24-7 won-lost record and a 2.48 ERA.
All these ‘undersized’ professionals proved that the size of a player’s heart always supersedes the size of his/her foot, hand, torso, reach or anything else. At 4’11” and 78 lbs. the Bears’ C-2B Rodolfo Sanchez knows the deal. Besides having played in the Bergenfield Little League District tournament, he has also played in the Paramus and Northeast Bergen All-Stars tournaments. This year he participated with his Bears’ teammates at the Cooperstown Baseball World tournament in Oneonta, New York.
He will be the first to tell you that it took hard work to get to each one of those venues, not to mention to win a starting spot on his teams’ rosters. Rodolfo knows the value of hard work. His desire to compete and his perseverance got him named to all-star teams in each of the last five years. Those attributes enabled him to “go 3-for-3 against (local rival) Harrington Park, and get the game winning hit.” Noteworthy accomplishments, to be sure, for a 12 year-old, but especially for a little guy with a big heart.
He likes playing baseball because it is “a competitive sport that is fun at the same time.” Similarly, he enjoys playing travel games because “they are more competitive than rec.” He names Derek Jeter and Mike Trout as his favorite professional players “because they work hard and show a sense of leadership.”
Rodolfo sets his goals as a player “to become a leader and an important player for my team.” If a poll of his teammates over the past five years were taken today, he would undoubtedly learn that, in the eyes of everyone who has seen him play, he’s already an important player with more than just a ‘sense’ of leadership.