The Journey Of A Hometown Hero

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Baseball_093015BBy Edward Lennon

Danny Barnes, a Manhasset native, is a 25-year-old man who has had a long and unique baseball journey that has led him through the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Overcoming different types of adversity, Barnes has become one of the greatest baseball players in Manhasset history.

During his childhood, there were no youth baseball leagues or town teams in Manhasset. Manhasset PAL baseball only started in 2000. If somebody wanted to play baseball, they were forced to play in the Port Washington youth league. A baseball future seemed unlikely for any Manhasset athlete. However, that was not the case for Barnes. Because of his immense dedication and the help of his youth coaches, Manny Alas and Al Duranti, he turned into a terrific pitcher at a young age.

After his years in the Port Washington league, he moved on to play for Manhasset High School for four years for coaches Rich Hess and Bruce Minerley. Barnes was known for his incredible work ethic that he developed from his pitching hero, the great Roger Clemens. The future Princeton Tiger went 8-1 and struck out 103 batters in just about 57 innings during his senior year at Manhasset. Topping out at 91 mph, he brought Manhasset to a victory in the playoffs for the first time since 1986. He went on to win the 2007 Diamond Award, an award that honors the best pitcher in Nassau County, his senior year.

Baseball_093015ABarnes truly put the scholar in the term scholar-athlete. He had the grades that qualified him to play baseball at Princeton University. As well as winning the Diamond Award, he was a recipient of the Capozzi Award, which goes to a standout scholar-athlete.

At Princeton, during his sophomore year, Barnes tore a nerve in his right arm, his pitching arm. This was his first encounter with injury. He rehabbed for several months and when he got back he was throwing harder than ever. “I looked at the radar gun and I saw 94, and I could not believe it.” The next season, his junior year he began to catch the eyes of professional scouts. The Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft in the 35th round. Despite beginning a professional career in the Toronto organization, he graduated from Princeton in 2012 with a degree in economics. His truly tremendous and tenacious work ethic is demonstrated by him pursuing an educational future, as well as an athletic career. He started to demonstrate and stress the importance of an education to the younger community.

In 2012, he was a member of the high A Dunedin Blue Jays, a minor league affiliate. That season, he was the saves leader in the Florida State League. After two injury ridden seasons, including a torn right rotator cuff and broken foot, he was a member of the 2015 New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the AA affiliate for the Blue Jays. This season was his best yet; he made the AA All-Star team. He is in the process of transitioning back into a starting pitcher. Barnes is hopeful to possibly be a Blue Jay in the near future. If not Toronto, he will be persistent and keep trying to make his dream come true. “I’m not going to be the one to stop my career. That’s not going to be me. I’m going to be the one that will keep trying.”

Despite playing baseball full-time, in the offseason Barnes is a coach to children in the community. He works at the PAL clinics with Coach Brian Corbo for kids from the ages of 4 to 12, and he coaches a fall team of high school players. He does this because he simply loves being around baseball. “I just enjoy being around the sport; it’s a passion of mine.”

Barnes is a man of class, who is completely modest and humble about everything he has and has accomplished. He is a great role model for the local children. He is a true hometown hero.

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