PHOENIX — Celebrating Independence Day this year while enjoying America's favorite pastime is even more special for one Valley family.
12-year-old Anthony Ramon took grounders and batting practice in the sweltering heat, focusing on the special journey ahead.
“These are the best 12 year olds in the country, and it’s crazy to be a part of one of eighteen of those kids,” said Anthony, a seventh-grader at Hearn Academy in Phoenix.
Over the weekend, Anthony was selected to join USA Baseball’s 12-U team following a grueling tryout in North Carolina. One that saw 300 of the most talented youngsters in the nation, whittled down to an eighteen-player roster.
“It’s huge to be on a team like this to go to Taiwan and hopefully just go ball out and just represent the country,” said Anthony.
His family says many nights were spent huddled around the TV.
“He and his older brother would watch the games and emulate the hitters' swings,” said Anthony’s dad Alex. “It’s just been part of our family DNA for sure,”
His mom Heather telling ABC15 her son had a gift from the very beginning and was ready to show it off at an early age.
“He was in T-ball, hitting pitches, running bases and fielding in diapers literally,” said Heather.
From diapers to getting his first passport, later this month Anthony will fly halfway around the work to Taiwan.
There he will put his skills and dedication to the test as he follows in the footsteps of many pro players like Mike Trout and Andrew McCutcheon who competed for USA Baseball as youths.
“We’re gonna play Japan, China, Dominican Republic, Mexico, ton of huge countries that have their top eighteen going,” said Anthony.
Despite being an Arizona Native and his parents' best efforts, Anthony’s favorite team may surprise you.
“I’m a Yankees fan,” said Anthony with a coy smile.
“We raised him right I promise,” said his mom with a laugh.
No matter who they cheer for at home, there’s no doubt where their loyalties will lie when Team USA lands in Taiwan. Giving this little leaguer his first taste of the big-league dream.
Anthony is sharing his journey on Instagram.