For a bunch of lucky, baseball-loving kids who call themselves the Jamaica Plain Angels, 2007 was a year they will never forget. As the kids began winter workouts in the old gym at Curtis Hall almost a year ago, they never imagined what their season would bring. One Boston Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) League Championship and two out-of-state trips later, the Angels had elevated their program to the next level.
The Jamaica Plain Angels is a baseball program based in Jamaica Plain Community Centers. The Angels are coached by Jamaica Plain Community Centers board member Felix G. Arroyo, his brother Ricardo Arroyo, and Curtis Hall Athletic Director Brian Wilbanks. The Angels compete in the Boston Red Sox RBI League. There are Angels teams in all three baseball divisions of the RBI League: ages 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18. The Angels also have a team in the Girls Youth Softball Division (ages 12 and under), which played its first season this year.
The 17- to 18-year-old Angels enjoyed a successful season led by the league’s best middle infield combination of Yuri Sanquentin and Andy Chalas and hitting machine Joe Valarese. The 15- to 16-year-old Angels made it all the way to the fifth and deciding game of the RBI League championship series. Led by scrappy players like Sean He, Isaiah Quinones and Tevin Osborne, they battled back from big deficits several times and lived up to the “never say die” mentality of the Angels program.
But it was the youngest Angels team that set the standard this year. The 13- to 14-year-old Angels won the RBI League Championship after posting a 9-1 regular-season record, sweeping through the playoffs, and outlasting the North End Dodgers in a classic five-game championship series. But that was only the beginning.
Riding the hot hand of their youngest team, the Angels coaches decided to enter the team in a Triple Crown Tournament in North Branford, Conn. in September. They battled their way to a 3-2 record as the only out-of-state team, good enough to qualify them for the National Championship tournament in St. Augustine, Fla.
The trip to Florida was a great experience for the Angels. Despite being eliminated early and finishing in just eighth place, a great time was had by all the players, coaches and parents who went. When they met an early exit in the tournament, they were able to spend their last day in Florida at Universal Studios. Not a bad deal for a program that is entirely free of charge to players!
Led by players such as Tim Sweeney, Joan Figueroa, Juan Cruz, Luis Reyes and Jerry “Mr. October” Dipre, the future for this team is bright. Look out for the Angels in 2008!
The Angels plan to travel again next season. To become a part of the Angels program or to learn how to support the team’s future tournament trips, contact coach Ricardo Arroyo at 308-4982.
Submitted by the Jamaica Plain Angels.