This article was originally published on MLB.com
It’s not long after dawn on Monday, April 29, when the 13-U and 12-U travel teams from the Major League Baseball Youth Academy in New Orleans return home, fresh off a National Youth Baseball Championships qualifier tournament in Grapevine, a suburb of Dallas, Texas.
Both teams fared well in their respective age groups against some of the top young talent in the nation, with the 13-U team losing a one-run game in the semifinals to the Texas Stix — a club that counts Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard as an alumnus — and the 12-U team falling in the championship to the Yeti Crawdads, another elite youth travel club from Texas.
But they are striving for more. Later that day, many of the same kids who had just played a tournament and then traveled more than seven hours on a charter bus would be back on the field, working hard with an eye on their next opportunity to showcase their skills on a big stage.
“You had kids come out for training that evening,” said Eddie Davis, the director of the New Orleans Youth Academy. “We told them to stay home [after the long trip and early-morning return]. They didn’t want to stay home.”