After spraining his ankle three days before the RBI Southwest Regional, Oscar Zamorano feared that his spot on the RBI Austin 18U Regional team was in jeopardy.
If he wasn’t on the regional roster and RBI Austin advanced, he’d be ineligible for the MLB RBI World Series.
Oscar had been loyal to the team all summer long, faithfully showing up to practices and games on time, and always supporting his teammates.
Instead of replacing Oscar with someone who could compete that weekend, the coaches decided to keep Oscar on the roster.
Why in the world would they do that during such a competitive tournament?
After not having pitched in almost three weeks, Oscar threw 3 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball before giving way to a reliever during RBI Austin’s first game at the RBI World Series against Arizona RBI.
Oscar, a first-generation American citizen from Del Valle, is intelligent, hardworking, and a little on the quiet side.
Sometimes feeling caught in between two worlds — his family speaks Spanish at home, while Oscar speaks English everywhere else.
Oscar’s family did not have the resources to afford an expensive, high-level select baseball program, but after being discovered in RBI’s summer league in 2017, he was chosen to participate in RBI’s Fall Player Development Academy.
This following spring in his senior season, Oscar was named a 1st-Team All-District Pitcher.
He was then chosen to represent RBI Austin in the RBI Southwest Regional, where he would compete against Houston Astros RBI, Texas Rangers RBI, and New Orleans RBI.
Over the course of the summer, Oscar established himself as one of the top pitchers on the RBI Austin regional team and even received his first offer to play at a junior college!
Since both of Oscar’s parents work Monday to Friday and were sometimes unable to get off work, RBI Austin Coach Mark Price would pick him up in Del Valle, and together they’d drive to the team’s pre-regional warmup tournaments in Waco and San Antonio.
“At first I thought Oscar was just a quieter kid, which in some ways he is, but as the miles wore on, I learned about Oscar’s bicultural daily life and how that impacts his demeanor and relationships.
We also talked about the generational differences in country music (Del Valle is out in the country…) and how two-stepping is a fun, natural way to strike up a conversation with a girl,” shared Coach Mark.
Coach Mark meets with the umpires and Arizona RBI coach before the first World Series game at Target Field.
You don’t get these kind of opportunities to know someone — to be let into someone’s life — by caring first and foremost about a baseball program or about winning a game.
Conversations about pitching techniques and batting stances are helpful on the field, but they alone don’t produce trust, rapport, or depth in a relationship.
These opportunities come in the unplanned, out-of-the-way drives up and down I-35, in the airplane rides to Minnesota, in the extra spaces when coaches go out of their way to spend time with their players and to ask them questions.
In the conversations about two-stepping, financial burdens, cultural disparity, country music, language barriers, insecurities, and dating — this is where trust is built, where relationships are made, where rapport is established, and where young men get to look up to older men for advice, wisdom, and guidance.
In choosing to invest in a player beyond just what he can produce for your team, in caring about the character of a young man — this is where kids are engaged and developed into game-changers in their community.
Because of Coach Mark, Oscar was shown that perseverance, dedication, selflessness, teamwork, and sacrifice are an imperative complement to skill, strength, and technique.