Morinville – A Georges H. Primeau Grade 7 student is packing his bags for an opportunity to play baseball where it is a little warmer. Twelve-year-old Morgan Melchert leaves Friday for Cuba where he and his teammates will play against local ball clubs from Veradero, Matanzas and Havana.
The good will trip is being organized by the St. Albert Minor Baseball Association’s (SAMBA) PeeWee AA Cardinals, and allows the boys an opportunity to visit fellow ball players and to help them out with school supplies and baseball items, things not readily available to the Cuban players.
Melchert is looking forward to the trip and looking forward to spending a week participating in a game he has developed a great love for. “I just like the sport,” he said. “I liked it since I was little and [I like] the competition.”
Melchert began playing ball at the age of five but took a break from the sport after playing for a couple years. He got back on the diamond two years ago and has not regretted the decision. “Two years ago I started and wanted to play just fun baseball,” he said, adding his parents introduced him to a baseball camp that increased his appreciation of the game. “I started to like it even more. More camps came out and I wanted to go to them. I asked my parents and they let me go. I worked my hardest and got to the triple A team. I tried out and I made that team.”
The young baseball player currently plays third base and does a bit of pitching for the AAA St. Albert PeeWee Cardinals but will be playing for SAMBA’s AA club while in Cuba. The trip is the third time the AA PeeWee’s have travelled to Cuba on a good will trip. Previous outings took place in 2004 and 2008.
It is an experience Melchert is looking forward to, not only to see first hand why so many major league ball players come from Cuba but also to interact with young people from a different culture. “I’ve travelled before but not to Cuba,” he said. “I think it’s going to be pretty fun just to see how they live and what their cultures about. That’s what I’m excited about.”
Father Chad Melchert is pleased his son has the opportunity to make the trip. “I just think it is a wonderful thing to be able to see another culture, and I think to appreciate how hard they are going to have to work here with all the camps and all the stuff they get; all the great opportunities here. These kids [in Cuba] do it with basically nothing. I think it is reflected in a good perspective and work ethic.”
Mr. Melchert said he is proud of Morgan’s work ethic on and off the baseball field. The young ball player spends about 12 hours a week practicing baseball during the winter, including hitting and throwing camps and weekly conditioning sessions in Edmonton.
A fan of the Toronto Blue Jays, Melchert is hoping to take his baseball as far as he can as he gets older. He said he is also a fan of the NHL, his team to root for being the Edmonton Oilers.
Melchert and his team return from Cuba Feb. 9.
Above: Georges H. Primeau Grade 7 student Morgan Melchert leaves Friday for a weeklong trip to Cuba where he and teammates will compete against local clubs. – Stephen Dafoe Photo