PHILADELPHIA -- It wasn't until a reporter said something to him that Frankford High School baseball coach Juan Namnum realized the significance of his 2012 team. And when it became known that his talented group of young ballplayers was the first high school team in Philadelphia history comprised of all Latino players and a Latino coach, the 16 players and their coach took a lot of pride in that.
"We have very traditional families that support our kids, and it was something that everyone was excited about when they found out," said Namnun, who moved from the Dominican Republic to the United States when he was 5 years old. "Our support has always been strong, and it's just gotten that much stronger."
The 2012 Frankford High School baseball team, which won a second consecutive public league championship in May, was recognized by the Philadelphia Phillies as part of Goya Latino Family Celebration during Tuesday night's game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
The fun-filled night, held in conjunction with National Hispanic Heritage Month, began with performances from various musical groups and a pregame celebration featuring 21 flags, one representing each Latino country. Ricky Ricardo, the Phillies' Spanish broadcaster, introduced the Phillies and Nationals starting lineups in Spanish.
The night also involved a food drive, as fans were asked to donate Goya food products to aid families of the Latino community who were in need. Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the country, pledged a donation of a minimum of 5,000 pounds of food to match what is collected at the ballpark on Tuesday night.
Namnun said it was "an exciting last couple days" for his team leading up to the appearance. The players from this past championship team who had since graduated were also able to come to the game, so Namnun said it was also a bit of a reunion for his players. The excited teenagers were shown on Phanavision during the third inning.
"I can't tell you how exciting it is to see a group of teenagers be as passionate about something like the sport that I'm passionate about," Namnun said. "They live it. They breathe it. It's all they talk about in school when they see me. It's so exciting to work with these kids, because it's easy. There's no motivation needed other than 'Let's make you better.'... It's pretty fun."
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.