Max Bracero coached the Hoboken Little League 10-year-old All-Star team last year, so he knew that there was a lot of talent as the players turned 11.
“We had them last year and they’re all great kids,” Bracero said. “We wanted to keep them together, so we had the entire team come back. It made it a lot easier for me and for the team, because we knew the kids. They wanted to practice. They want to work hard. As a coach, you love that. They’re willing to spend three hours practicing and playing.”
However, something tragic happened between last year and this. Bracero’s father, Max. Sr., lost his battle to colon cancer. Max Bracero, Sr. was 67 years old.
“It was the hardest year for me,” said the younger Bracero, who lost his father last Aug. 29. “My Dad loved baseball so much. I thought about giving up coaching, but my wife, daughter and son all asked me to keep doing it. Coaching is something that means a lot to me.”
So is the cause to help others with colon cancer and to raise money for colon cancer research.
That’s why last weekend, while his team was still playing in the District 7 11-year-old Little League All-Star tournament, the younger Bracero traveled to Long Branch to compete in a three-mile run to help raise money for the Colon Cancer Alliance.
On Aug. 29, the year anniversary of his father’s passing, there will be a fund raiser on the Hoboken piers to remember Max Bracero, Sr.
“My Little League family has been a big support to me and they’re helping me get donations,” Bracero said. “We’re selling raffle tickets, all for the Colon Cancer Alliance.”
In between, Bracero is coaching the Hoboken 11-year-old All-Stars.
“All these kids just love to play, so it makes it a lot of fun for me,” Bracero said.
The Hoboken youngsters came from behind to defeat Roberto Clemente Little League in the District 7 final last week. They moved on to the Section 1 tournament in Nutley over the weekend.
“It’s a great feeling,” Bracero said. “We have a special group of kids. We kept this group together for this reason, to have a chance to win the state championship.”
The Hoboken All-Stars have a deep pitching staff, led by right hander Victor Martinez, who was unfortunately hit with a pitch last week and was forced out of action. Josh Ortiz is another capable right-hander and so is Kris Salinas, who entered the game last week when Martinez was injured.
The catcher is Evan Lichman, who has done a superb job behind the plate.
“He calls a great game and people don’t even try to steal on him,” Bracero said. “He’s also so smart. It’s like having another coach on the field.”
Aram Assordorian is the team’s first baseman.
“He’s been swinging a big bat for us,” Bracero said.
Second base duties are shared by Martinez and Ortiz, depending upon who is pitching.
Salinas is the team’s mainstay at shortstop.
Jeremy Nunez is the team’s slugging third baseman who is also a dependable fielder.
Left field duties are handled by Nick Siniscalchi, with Kris Jacobsen and Leo Seickendick in centerfield.
The team’s right fielders are Orlandus Rivera and Danny Burrell, the son of former St. Peter’s Prep and Stevens Tech basketball sensation Danny, Sr.
If the younger Burrell can jump in any fashion like his father, then any ball hit to right field has no prayer of going out, because the elder Burrell had more hops than a brewery.
The Hoboken 11’s began Section 1 tournament play last Saturday, falling 3-1 to Saddle Brook in Nutley at the Nutley American complex. They avoided elimination by defeating Palisades Park, 6-2, and were slated to face Saddle Brook again in the losers’ bracket at press time.
“It’s just a special group of kids,” Bracero said. “They love being together and that’s maybe the main reason why we wanted to keep them all together. They definitely make things happen.”
And the team’s biggest fan is looking down from above with a great sense of pride.
EXTRA INNINGS focuses on the best stories that come from local baseball and softball leagues throughout the area, from Little League action through travel leagues.
If you have any noteworthy information to contribute to the EXTRA INNINGS, feel free to contact Jim Hague by phone at (201) 303-5792, by general mail at 1400 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, or via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com.
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Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.