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From a game of catch to being recruited

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON — The Connie Mack World Series has one extra hidden perk for those who come to see squads from across the country play baseball: it opens doors for future talent.

Piedra Vista pitcher Ross Martin is being recruited by the Florida Legends for 2020 CMWS, and it all stemmed from a chance encounter in 2008 with Legends assistant coach Angel Herrera.

A simple game of catch

Herrera was sitting in the bleachers, waiting for another game to end so Florida could start pregame warmups. Martin, who was 6 years old at the time, walked up to him.

“Here’s this cute little kid. He was really personable. We talked, and I befriended him,” Herrera said. “I saw that enthusiasm, and I saw an opportunity to bless a young man and bring him on the field.”

Seen in this August 2, 2008 Daily Times photo, Florida Legends assistant coach Angel Herrera carries Ross Martin, then 6 years old, on his shoulders during the 2008 Connie Mack World Series. Martin is now being recruited by the Legends for the 2020 CMWS.

The two stepped onto the grass at Ricketts Park for a simple game of catch. Herrera then gave Martin a more complete view from inside the park.

“He was just so welcoming,” Martin said. “I remember he put me on his shoulders. I could see everyone. I’d be running with (the team). Baseball’s my life.”

From that moment on, Martin and Herrera kept in contact over the years.

As Martin gained experience playing high school baseball, the interest in joining the Legends kept growing.

Preparing for 2020

Martin, who's entering his senior year at PV, is taking steps to ensure he's ready to contribute to the Legends right away.

Martin said his secondary pitches are spot-on, but he wants to strengthen his lower body to push off the mound with more force and throw harder.

“I don’t walk anybody. I hit my spots, and I hit the corners,” Martin said. “My confidence level shoots up when I’m on the mound. I’ll definitely be training hard, and my velocity will shoot up."

While Herrera embraces the competitive nature of the Connie Mack World Series, he also cultivates relationships, even if they start off with making a little kid’s day.

And now Martin's connection with Herrera and the Legends will soon come full circle.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I wish it could come tomorrow," Martin said. "I’m just anxious to get back on the mound. Time flew by.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or on Twitter at @MattH_717.

Sometimes old newspaper photos just capture events, but this photo shows the start of a dream. This August 2, 2008 Daily Times photo shows  Ross Martin, then 6, on Florida Legends assistant coach Angel Herrera's shoulders during the 2008 Connie Mack World Series. Martin now hopes to join the Legends for the 2020 CMWS.