“Is that a magic glove?” a young boy asked Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. Of course, his answer was ‘no,’ but it didn’t make meeting the sports star any less mesmerizing.
Dozens of youths, members of the Jamaica YMCA’s Junior Mets, had the chance to play America’s pastime on Tuesday at Jamaica’s Marconi Park with Tejada and Mets infielder Justin Turner. It’s all part of the Mets and Citi’s “Teammates in the Community” initiative.
“I liked meeting the baseball players in person,” said Omari Brown, 10. “It’s an amazing feeling, and I would like to meet other baseball players and superstars one day.”
Although Brown says he is a big baseball fan and likes watching it on television, he said he’d rather pursue a career in professional basketball.
Tejada, 22, a native of Panama, said he started playing baseball when he was 5 years old, and he enjoyed getting a chance to meet the youngsters, who look up to players like himself.
“It’s really great to be here with the kids and see them learning baseball,” Tejada said. “We try to help them.”
Turner, 27, epressed similar sentiments.
“It’s awesome just to see the way they are laughing, smiling and how their faces light up, when they walk up to us and ask us if we are on the real Mets,” Turner said. “It’s pretty neat and it gives you a good feeling. Hopefully, we can inspire them to want to pursue a baseball career, and hopefully one day they will put on a Mets uniform.”
The Junior Mets program is an eight-week session for children ages 5 to 14 that aims to combine the fun of playing baseball and developing athletic skills with the YMCA’s core values of respect, responsibility, honesty and caring.
Participant Isaiah Tamdji, 10, was thrilled to meet Tejada, who he said is his favorite Mets player. “It was very exciting,” he said.