By Cole Latos /PHR National Finalist
Cole Latos, of Allen, TX, is a 2014 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run presented by Scotts National Finalist. Cole shared his Pitch, Hit & Run experiences with MLB.com
Sunday, July 13, 2014 - Day 1:
On my way to Minneapolis, I was so excited! It felt like it was Christmas Day! When we arrived at the airport in Minneapolis, we were met by Pitch, Hit & Run staff. After we were settled into our hotel room, all 24 national finalists and their families were invited to a Welcome Dinner. Before we ate, we were introduced to one another and watched a video and slide show. Some former participants of Pitch, Hit & Run are now in the Major Leagues! It was really awesome hearing their stories. At the dinner, we ate and discussed details about the long (but fun) days ahead, and we were given a bag of gifts from many of the MLB teams and Scotts.
Monday, July 14, 2014 - Day 2:
The next day, we had brunch at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. The ballroom was HUGE and there was a ton of food. We were greeted by all of the MLB mascots. After the brunch, we went to FanFest which was so cool. The first thing we did at FanFest was a skills and drills lesson at an indoor miniature baseball field. Some of the instructors were Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and David Winfield. I could not believe I was getting batting tips from a legend! We went to several more activities and got to go to the front of the lines. We also got to meet Rollie Fingers who is a Hall of Fame pitcher. He signed a baseball for me and we took several pictures. After FanFest, we headed to Target Field to compete one last time in the Pitch, Hit & Run competition. I pitched and ran well, but I hit three line drives that did not go as far as I had hoped because they were not high enough in the air. I got 3rd place. I was very disappointed, but I knew I had a fun night ahead of me. We were able to hang out in the 3rd base dugout until the Home Run Derby started. While we were waiting, Yu Darvish waved at us, and it was awesome seeing Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Giancarlo Stanton, and Jose Bautista, just to name a few. I did not catch any balls during the Home Run Derby, but it was awesome to see the balls fly into the upper deck. The Home Run Derby was a blast!
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - Day 3:
The next day we had some time to go sightseeing. My family and I went to the biggest mall in the world, The Mall of the America. There is an amusement park inside the mall! We rode a couple of roller coasters which was fun. We all went to FanFest again for the official awards ceremony. Then, it was finally time to go to the 85th annual All-Star Game. Some of my favorite parts were the fly over by the blue angels and the announcement of the starting lineup.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - Day 4:
As I headed back to the airport to fly home, I thought about how I would remember this trip forever! I'd like to thank Pitch, Hit & Run, MLB and Scotts for giving me this trip of a lifetime. Congratulations to all 23 National Finalists. It will be something I never forget!
Hi. My name is Cole Latos. I am from Allen, Texas, and I am 12 years old. This is my first year competing in the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run competition. When I first heard about PHR by my PE teachers, Coach Kaspar and Coach McNulty, at Cheatham Elementary, I got really excited because I LOVE baseball. Later that day, I told my parents about the competition, and I got some bad news. They told me I had a baseball tournament the very same weekend as the competition. I didn't want to let my team down so I thought PHR wasn't going to happen for me this year. However, the weather forecast for the weekend of the PHR competition and my tournament wasn't looking very good so luckily for me, the Local PHR competition in Allen decided to change dates due to potential bad weather. That was perfect for me! The day of the competition, I was super excited and nervous. I knew that my strongest area was hitting, so I wanted to do that first. I was second in line and when it was time to hit, I was very anxious. My first two hits went straight into the ground. My third hit cleared the fence! Everyone cheered which was cool. I pitched and ran well enough too so I advanced to the next round of competition.
Similar to the Local competition, the Sectional competition also was scheduled the same weekend as one of my baseball tournaments. The competition was Sunday morning so I knew our team had to do good Saturday so we wouldn't have to play until Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, my team won both of our pool games on Saturday so we didn't have to play until Sunday afternoon. At the Sectional competition, there were boys from all over North Texas. I waited in line for my turn to hit. Again, I hit the first two into the ground and hit my third ball over the fence. I also ran ok and pitched well. My total score was not as good at the local competition so I wasn't sure if I would make the Texas Rangers Team Championship.
A few weeks later, my mom got an email that I had scored high enough to compete at the Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Being able to compete on a big league field would be incredible. It couldn't get here fast enough. On the morning of the team competition, it started to rain. They decided that we needed to do the running portion first before it got too slippery. Because it was raining so hard, we actually had to do the pitching portion indoors. Then we went back down to the field and waited for the rain to stop. Down in the grounds crew area, there was a TV. We all watched tennis for 45 minutes as the storm passed. When it was finally dry enough to hit, I was so nervous. My first two hits were identical to the Local and Sectional competition I hit them straight into the ground. My next hit was a line drive a little to the left of the target. My total points were enough to win the Team Championship for the Texas Rangers! I was introduced before a Rangers game, and I was on the jumbotron in front of thousands of people.
I had to wait for almost a month before the National Finalists would be announced. That was a long few weeks! My family and entire baseball team was in Gulf Shores, Alabama for a baseball World Series tournament. On the day of the announcement, we searched for a place to watch the broadcast on the MLB Network, but we were not familiar with the area. We couldn't find the channel anywhere. My Aunt Kellie and cousins in Allen (TX) watched the broadcast live on the MLB Network and took a video of the segment with her iPhone. She sent us the video to watch. I couldn't believe it when I saw my name on TV. I have never been to Minneapolis before, and I am looking forward to competing one last time, shagging balls during the MLB Homerun Derby and watching the All Star Game. I am so thankful to Scotts, PHR and MLB for making this trip of a lifetime come true. I also want to thank Coach Jacob, Coach Craig and all of my North Texas Longhorns teammates for being so supportive during this competition.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.