Charlie Downey and Kendall Hailey have played together at Toluca League Youth Baseball since they were five. As their first trip to baseball’s spring training proves, the 12-year-olds take their hardball seriously.
Making the most of their spring break, the two Los Angeles kids (with some willing navigation from Charlie’s father Jake) visited seven Cactus League games in four days. They even made time to attend a Phoenix Suns NBA game, play paintball and have lunch at BankOne Ballpark, home to Arizona’s Major League Diamondbacks.
Like most kids at baseball games, the two were focused on autographs and foul balls. Though they were successful on both fronts, they’re already mapping out next spring’s trip to Arizona.
“Our goal is to get a ball every game, basically,” said Charlie. “I think next year we’re gonna have to stay longer, see more baseball parks, meet more players, get more autographs. Right now we’re doing pretty well, but next year we’re gonna have to up our game.”
Kendall agreed, and said they were also doing some scouting. The young baseball players watched the pros closely, hoping to improve their own games.
“I’m not really rooting for anybody,” he said. “We’re just coming out here and embracing it all.”
(This is a longer version of a story produced for California Life)