When we found out that YFSF regular Nyara was a Little League and High School teammate of elite Red Sox prospect Jacoby Ellsbury, we couldn't help but ask him to contribute a short piece about their time playing together. We're pleased to present the result. Above is the 1999 Madras (Oregon) White Buffaloes team photo. Ellsbury (#2) is second from the left. Nyara (#8) is sixth from the left. Enjoy!
As a sixth-grader in Madras, my Little League team fell short of players midway through the 1992 season. My dad (our coach) was forced to "call up" a player from the younger league of third- and fourth-graders to fill the roster. With little hesitation, he passed over the older kids and chose a 9-year-old named Jacoby Ellsbury. Now, Madras isn't exactly a booming metropolis, so Jacoby's talent was no secret. He came up and played well for us, and I even remember an instance where my friends and I watched him pitch on the side, marvelling at how consistently he threw strikes (which, in Little League, is not a common trait).
His athleticism obviously continued into high school, where we again became teammates, and in several sports. I was a senior when he got to high school, but he easily made the varsity football and baseball teams. He played wide receiver and (I believe) free safety for the White Buffaloes, but his season was cut short when he suffered a broken collar bone. He healed during the basketball season, and was ready for baseball in the spring. He started in centerfield and was also our leadoff hitter. He did well his freshman year, hit a couple of homers while being one of the team leaders in average, and we all knew he'd be a special player. Never did we realize, however, that he'd make it as far as he has.
He obviously had a stellar high school career in baseball, but he also was a star of the basketball team. He was a popular student, as he was very friendly and genuinely nice, which isn't always the case with elite athletes. I'm happy to see that these attributes haven't seemed to have changed. Although I don't live in Madras anymore, I know he had the full support of the town, and is a local hero in central Oregon. I spend my spring afternoons coaching the freshmen baseball team in Corvallis now, and he is a popular subject there as well, as he spent his impressive collegiate career at Oregon State University, leading them to their first of three straight CWS appearances.
His incredible talent and speed is impressive, but equally relevant (and probably overlooked) is his intense work ethic, his commitment to his team and the sport, and his humility and integrity. He plays the game well, and he plays the game right. As a 20-year Yankees fan, I was devastated when the Sox chose him 23rd overall in 2005, and now my fears have come to fruition. Sox fans, I tell you (with more than a trace of bitterness) congratulations, for you truly have an extremely valuable young man on your roster.
The following article documents Ellsbury's first appearance in a high school game.
White Buffaloes Clip Culver Twice
Jeremy Logue drew a leadoff walk to open the eighth inning and came around on a passed ball, giving the White Buffaloes a 3-2 victory over Culver and a sweep of the doubleheader with the Bulldogs Saturday afternoon.
Madras won Saturday's opener 8-7 as three pitchers limited the bulldogs to two base hits. Madras' Jacoby Ellsbury was 2-for-2 in the second game, scoring a run and driving in a third-inning run on a sacrifice fly. That put Madras ahead 2-1, but Culver sent the game to extra innings by tying the score in the top of the seventh. Culver's Ryan Overcash scattered six hits while registering a complete game in the second game. In the first game, Madras helped keep the Bulldogs close by issuing 11 walks and committing four errors. Madras went ahead 5-2 in the second inning with a four-run rally highlighted by Logue's leadoff double, Jorge Mora's run-scoring groundout, Ellsbury's RBI triple, and Charlie Nyara's run scoring single.
Culver tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the fifth, but Madras went ahead for good in the bottom of the frame, when Logue singled in Jake Jaca, who had doubled, and Mora lofted a pitch for a sacrifice fly. Nyara finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs, [Way to go Nyara!—ed.] and Logue was 2-for-3.