By Bill Tamburrino
Jonathan Doulgeropoulos is back in school after a busy and well-traveled summer vacation.
Jonathan represented Ramona on Team USA San Diego as the team traveled to Japan in August for a 15U World Boys Baseball Tournament. Team USA played teams from the United States, Korea, Mexico, China and Japan and won America’s first medal in the competition since 2004.
Ramona’s representative on the team hit a torrid .500 with two home runs, three doubles, a triple and two singles, but his positive experiences off the diamond far outweighed his stats.
When asked what the best experience of the world series was, Jonathan responded, “Playing the kids from Japan. They play the game the way it is supposed to be played. They have a great respect for the game. Getting to know them after the games was great.”
How did he communicate with the Japanese players? “We used hand gestures and body language and we had an interpreter, but baseball is an international language and we did quite well.”
Jonathan opened the series with two home runs in his first two at bats and that got the players from Japan’s attention at the banquet after the game.
He said the most important lesson that he learned was, “Don’t judge players by their size, never under estimate players because of their size. Japan won the championship with very small players. They did not have a player over 5’4 on their roster, but they all put the ball in play.”
Jonathan’s father Tim accompanied him on the trip. His mother, Colleen, and his twin sister Caitlyn did not make the trip.
They started with six friendship games against six teams from Yokahama, Japan, where they met the mayor and her cabinet and exchanged gifts and letters from the city of San Diego.
The team also visited Tokyo and Hiroshima before they played in the world series. While in Hiroshima, they visited Hiroshima Nuclear Museum, which is at ground zero at the site of the first atomic bombing.
The World Tournament took place in Fukuoka in southwest Japan. “All of the stadiums were first class. They had major league dimensions and great seating. However, they all had skin (dirt) infields.”
The U.S. players were originally scheduled to live with host families but, because of the recent earthquakes, the team was housed in hotels. “The Japanese people would only allow their guests to stay in top-notch facilities and because of the earthquakes there was not enough family homes,” explained Tim Doulgeropoulos.
The food was different. “It was not like the sushi or Japanese food we get here at Japanese restaurants,” said Jonathan. “I lost 10 pounds. The restaurant at the hotel in Fukuoka had pizza and hamburgers and American food, but it was different from what we are used to. They have plenty of McDonalds in Japan. The Japanese players and parents think that all we do is eat at McDonalds. I actually had my first Big Mac that I have ever eaten in Japan.”
Jonathan is a three-sport athlete at RHS. He is on the water polo team, wrestles and plays baseball. He plans to major in journalism with an emphasis on broadcast journalism in college. He started playing baseball at the age of four but said he will always remember the two weeks he spent in Japan with his dad.
Jonathan is thankful for the support that his family, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and sister gave him. “I could not have done this without their love and support.”
He is grateful to the Japanese people who were such gracious hosts and he is thankful to the people of Ramona who helped him get to Japan.
“The people of Ramona were very generous and enthusiastic when they found out that I made Team USA,” he said. “We live in a great community.”