By JP Raineri
Sports Editor 

Local club baseball team has legendary feel at each of its levels

 

Last updated 8/8/2019 at 10:38pm

Courtesy photo

The Temecula Legends 12U baseball team surrounds player, Antone Williams, middle, who hit 30 home runs to win the home run derby earlier this summer in Cooperstown, NY.

The Temecula Legends Baseball Club was founded in 2016 by Temecula resident, Dennis Irwin. At the time, Irwin was running a 7U machine pitch team that played in the local Temecula Youth Baseball league. In fall 2017, Irwin added an 11U team that was centered around many of older brothers and families of the original team.

The 11U team would continue to develop and grow and just recently, over the summer of 2019, they traveled to Cooperstown, New York, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame to compete in the Cooperstown All Star Village tournament. With over sixty 12U teams from all over the United States and a few from Canada, the Legends staff said they knew it was going to be competitive but emphasized to their players to have fun.

"One of the many great memories includes one of our own, Antone Williams, who won the Home Run Derby by hitting 30 total dingers," Irwin, president and founder of the Temecula Legends Baseball Club, said.

Williams hit 18 in the first round and 12 in the final round. Just to put things in perspective, the player that came in second place hit a total of 8 home runs. Legends player, Caleb Wagner, finished the actual tournament as the HR leader with 8 home runs. While the team was there, they visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and had many memorable meals at local eateries. 


"It's bigger than baseball," Irwin said. "It's raising young men, future husbands and future fathers. They see everything we do and hear everything we say. They hear how we speak to our wives, how we speak to the players and how we react to success and to failure. Being Legendary is more than baseball. It's about the life we live today and the life our boys will live when they are men."

In fall 2018, the program expanded and added four teams that began competing in the 8U, 9U, 11U and 12U age groups. This summer, the Legends 9U team competed in the USSSA International World Series, which is the largest baseball youth world series event held at Big League Dreams locations throughout Southern California. In an impressive showing, the team made it to the championship game, playing 10 games in five days. The team fell short in the championship game, winning silver.

"Our organization is built on great kids from great families playing the game they love," Irwin said. "We promote the development of players as well as the development of well-rounded young men. We look for a multi-year commitment enabling us to foster teamwork in these young boys."


Preparations are in place for the program to expand once again and will include teams in the age groups of 7U, 9U, 10U, 12U and 13U, which will consist more of high school prep-based play.

The current Legends 9U and 12U teams have traveled to Arizona the last two springs to compete and attend MLB Cactus League Spring Training, and there are future plans that include traveling to Las Vegas; Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and Cooperstown, New York. The last two years they have held a casino night at Leoness Winery in the fall and a golf tournament sponsored by Audi Temecula in the spring. The fundraising nights allow the program to keep the out of pocket costs for their families low.

Besides Irwin, some key people help drive the teams' success, including Rami Amezcua, club vice president and 12U general manager and coach; John Morinaga, 12U manager, and Donnie Thomason, 9U manager.

"Of course, much of this wouldn't be possible without the hard work of many individuals, especially Adriana Irwin and Carrie Amezcua," Irwin said, who said he takes pride in the "Character-Loyalty-Family" aspect of his program. "This family we have built is more than we could have ever dreamed."

Irwin also mentioned that they recently received a complimentary message from Marc Rinebolt, the manager of the 9U team that their Legends team beat in the semifinals to make the championship game. "It was just as important to us as winning a championship," he said.


"As the manager of the SoCal Bulldogs, we were pulling for the Legends in the championship. It's rare to see a team that has talent, good coaching and classy parents...and they have all three," Rinebolt said. "Very proud to have been in this tournament with them, great job Legends."

The Temecula Legends Baseball Club is a registered not-for-profit corporation in California and can be found on Facebook and Instagram. Tryouts for all five teams will be held in mid-August. Contact [email protected] for more information.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at [email protected]

Courtesy photo

The 9U Temecula Legends battles through the 2019 USSSA World Series recently, making it all the way to the championship game where they ultimately take second place.

 

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