Dreams always start with … well … a dream

Saddleback baseball field during a Tuesday game with image of OEC baseball champions logo and left fielder Jake Beauchaine. Justine Baginski/Lariat

Everyone has to start somewhere, even famous baseball players. Let’s take a glance at some of the members of the Saddleback Bobcats baseball team and tie their favorite professional baseball teams into some inspiration. 

Saddleback college opened its baseball program in 1969, only a year after it had been built. It didn’t take too long for other sports programs to be opened, such as the Saddleback surf program in the year 2000. It’s been 54 years since the program started, earning Saddleback over 1,200 wins and one state title.

Second base player Ben Castelli is number 25 on the team, and a sophomore at Saddleback. 

“My family always played baseball,” said Castelli, when asked about his history with the sport. “My dad coached me ever since I was little.” 

In response to what his current dream professional baseball team was, he chose the Philadelphia Phillies. 

The Phillies didn’t always start famous. They began in 1882, known at the time as the “Philadelphia Ball Club Limited.” Just a year later, the two founders of the club, Al Reach and John Rogers, won an expansion National League franchise for Philadelphia. For it they were given a spot in the league, replacing the Worcester Worcesters.

“Don’t let other people tell you what you can and can’t do. I worked insanely hard to make this dream come true,” said Michael Lorenzen, a former baseball pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies during a post game interview in 2023. “I’ve watched every single one of Nolan Ryan’s no-hitters because I have always wanted to throw a no-hitter… You have to keep going for it. Keep working.”

Sophomore left fielder Jake Beauchaine flashes uniform number 14 at Saddleback. 

“I’ve been playing my whole life and I love it,” said Beauchaine. “I still enjoy playing baseball, so I’m gonna keep playing as long as I can.”

What about his favorite Major League baseball team?

“Oh it’s gotta be the Padres.” he said. “That’s my favorite team, so it would be sweet if I could play with them.”

The San Diego Padres began as a Minor League franchise in the Pacific Coast League. They won the PCL title in 1937, led by an 18-year-old named Ted Williams. 32 years later, the Padres joined the ranks of Major League Baseball.

“Get ahead,” said Josh Hader, a previous player for the Padres in an interview with Sam Levitt. “That’s the biggest thing … get ahead and execute.”

Makani Tanaka, a freshman who plays center field, is sports number three of the Bobcats. 

“It was something different to my parents, because both of my parents play basketball,” Tanaka said. “Yeah, [and] I was too short to play basketball,” he added. 

“Oh it’s the Giants, hands down,” he said, talking about his dream team. “That was the first team I played on when I was like three or four, so if I could play San Francisco that would be pretty cool.”

The Giants began in New York City, and were dubbed the “New York Gothams” in 1883. They were then known as the “New York Giants” from 1885, relocating to San Francisco in 1958. The Giants have since then played in the World Series 20 times. 

“I remember staying up late one fall night in 1995 and watching the Braves [win] a World Series championship,” said Buster Posey, a now-retired member of the Giants, in a youtube video taken in 2022. “Even at eight years old I was captivated by 25 men jumping around with youthful enthusiasm because of what they had just accomplished.”

Andrew Burlep, a catcher and a freshman at Saddleback, carries the number 55.

“Both my older brothers played and my dad played,” he answered, a similar response to many of the other team members’. “I just grew up around it.”

Number 13, starter pitcher Damon Anderson Wolf had a similar familial upbringing. 

“My father was a coach for a college team,” he said. “I just followed in his footsteps. I’ve loved the game ever since.”

As for his dream professional baseball team…

“I just think making it into the MLB would be awesome, I’m not really too picky on what team it would be,” Anderson Wolf said. “But if I had to choose one I would probably go with Angels, just cause it’s an all time fav.” 

The Angels have had a long history, particularly one with changing names. In 1961, the franchise was founded in Los Angeles by Gene Autry as one of MLB’s first two expansion teams, along with being the first to start in California. Quite a few years later in 2002, the Angels won the World Series.

“At 10 years old, my coach told me ‘You won’t have success if you can’t handle failure,’” said Mike Trout, a player on the Angel’s baseball team in a twitter post. “That was a pivotal moment that changed me – on and off the field.”

Saddleback college accepts applications from potential baseball recruits: a place where anyone with a dream can begin looking.