BANGOR, Maine — It’s common for fathers to coach their sons, but you rarely find a brother coaching a brother.
The Latin American champions from Willemstad, Curacao, have such a team, with Raysheron Michel coaching his younger brother, Raysheandall, during the Senior League World Series at Mansfield Stadium.
Raysheron Michel, 21, is an assistant coach for Curacao, and his younger brother Raysheandall, 16, is a center fielder, just like his brother used to be.
The younger Michel looked up to his older brother while he was growing up and often accompanied him to his practices and games.
“He was a good ballplayer,” Raysheandall said.
“He was always around me,” Raysheron said.
That special bond doesn’t mean Raysheron takes it easy on his little brother.
In fact, he can be tougher on him than the other players.
“But I don’t mind, because he knows what I’m doing wrong. He has really helped me,” Raysheandall said. “He is a good coach.”
On Wednesday, Raysheron noticed a problem his brother was having during Curacao’s 14-4 winning game over Europe-Africa titlist Emilia, Italy, and pointed it out to him.
“Today he was a little bit too nervous at the plate. He was putting too much pressure on himself. So I told him just to be relaxed and try to hit the ball well,” Raysheron said.
The brothers live together in their family home. And whenever they are together, there is one primary topic of conversation.
“We’re always talking about baseball,” Raysheron said.
“All day. We never get tired of talking about baseball,” Raysheandall said.
Italian baseball improving
Although Emilia, Italy, lost its first three SLWS games, the first two setbacks came in extra innings.
The Italians lost to U.S. East champions, Bristol, Connecticut, 1-0, in eight innings in their opener and 11-3 in eight innings to U.S. Southwest titlist Houston, Texas, in their second game.
Even in their most recent defeat, they were tied at 4-4 through four innings before Curacao broke the game open.
The four runs were the most Curacao allowed in a game during both their Latin American regional and the SLWS.
Italian pitcher-outfielder Carlo Tanara said it has been a “little bit frustrating” not to have a win so far, but he said the fact that the team could have won both of its first two games showed that Italian baseball is improving.
“I think some of the other teams don’t think the teams in Europe are good, but I think we’ve changed their minds,” Tanara said. “Even today, we were ahead, 4-3, after the first inning.”
Curacao and Houston teams are 3-0, and both earned berths in the semifinals.
“We’re getting better, slowly. And it’s probably because more kids are starting to play baseball,” pitcher-outfielder Filippo Tomassoni said. “There are more choices for kids. We don’t have any more fields because there aren’t any funds for that. But more kids are getting interested in baseball.
“We have a couple of kids on our team who literally live on a baseball field every day. They’re training every day,” he added.
The Italian youngsters started playing baseball when they were 5 or 6 years old and said there are numerous Little League teams in their country.
Soccer is the No. 1 sport in Italy by a wide margin, but Tomassoni said baseball offers kids an opportunity to play a sport that is more cerebral than soccer.
“You have to use your brain more in baseball,” Tomassoni said.
Rain prompts SLWS change
Tournament director Mike Brooker moved Wednesday’s late game between Bristol, Connecticut, and U.S. Central champ Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Mahaney Diamond at the University of Maine at Orono and changed the game time from 5 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. to try and beat the rain.
Brooker sent a support staff to the game in Orono, including personnel to handle the announcing and run the scoreboard. Umpires also were transported to Orono.
It cost $300 to rent the field and pavilion for one game, he said.
“It’s not unreasonable,” said Brooker, who noted the fee was in accordance with NCAA guidelines.
Brooker said he would wait until Thursday morning to determine whether any of that day’s four games would need to be moved.