Volume 20 Issue 3 | June 1 -7, 2007

M.A.T.’s ace, Emmanuelle Mendoza. is 5-0 with three home runs in the school’s first season.

Dragons on fire in first-ever baseball season

Despite a scarcity of field space and limited afterschool budgets, eight Manhattan middle schools came together this spring to form the borough’s first-ever public middle school baseball league.

Manhattan Academy of Technology athletic director John De Matteo, who helped get the league up and running, is now watching his own students benefit from the opportunity to play ball. Six weeks into the season, the M.A.T. Dragons lead the league with an 8-1 record.

"I felt our kids were being denied the opportunity to participate in such an amazing sport, so along with other great coaches, we decided to do something about it and create our own league," said De Matteo, who helps coach everything from track to table tennis at M.A.T.

De Matteo has three assistant coaches — John Molinelli, Al Guerrero and Matt Carpenter — working with the baseball team, which practices and plays at Coleman Field on the Lower East Side. On the field, the Dragons are led by the versatile Emmanuelle Mendoza, who has hit three home runs and racked up a 5-0 record as a starting pitcher.

Despite the fact that some of them had never played baseball before this year, the Dragons have been hitting strong from every spot in the line-up. They will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, which start in June.

"We have a lot of fun while we're learning and the fact that we've been so competitive in the league is a plus,” De Matteo said. “Baseball at M.A.T. and in New York City is here to stay, and it's about time. Our kids deserve it."

I have to laugh, because he's been intentionally walked by a school already.  Emmanuelle is going to be a tremendous baseball player and there's no telling how far he can go.  He has a great work ethic, tremendous leadership skills and has the respect of his teammates and teachers.  The sky is the limit for this young man.

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