Fort Smallwood Elementary rising fifth-grader Lance Blair had a memorable summer playing his favorite sport against some of the best players in the world.
Blair, 10, was part of a USA baseball team that traveled to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to take part in the Latin America Baseball Classic tournament spanning the end of July and the first week of August.
Blair, who has been playing baseball since age 4, impressed at tryouts last December at the Delmarva Aces indoor facility in Berlin, where hundreds of kids tried out for a spot to represent their country at the tournament. Out of over 4,000 athletes ages 9 to 18 who tried out across the country, 350 were chosen from 32 different states to play on a handful of different teams at the LABC this summer. Blair was the only 10-year-old selected from Maryland.
In addition to receiving coaching from former MLB, MiLB and current NCAA baseball coaches, Blair experienced a foreign culture through baseball, all while having success on the diamond. After being named the team’s starting shortstop for the tournament, Blair batted .500 in the tournament with an on-base percentage of .600 in helping his team to a 3-3 record in six games.
Following the tournament, Blair’s USA team played a goodwill game against the tournament champions, Liga Enrique Cruz Baseball Academy of the Dominican Republic, and won, 7-5. Games were played at the Dominican training facilities of the Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies.
Blair plays locally for API’s 10U select team and said the experience this summer showed him a new side of baseball.
“I really enjoyed being able to play with players from all over the United States and compete against some of the best 10U players in the world,” said Blair. “The level of play and time the Dominican players put in really made me understand what type of work and time needs to be put in to play at the next level.”
Blair is also the starting quarterback for the Pasadena Bucs 10U Division-I football team and an honor roll student at Fort Smallwood.
A memorable moment from his time in the Dominican Republic came when he exchanged contact information and took a picture with Diego Martinez, Blair’s counterpart as the starting shortstop for Liga Enrique Cruz. To Blair, it encapsulated the experience of traveling outside the country to play baseball.
“I made friends and memories on the baseball field this week that will last a lifetime,” Blair said.