NJ Little League's biggest fan is ... Juan Soto?
Juan Soto just can't stay away from the diamond.
The youngest batting champion in National League history traveled to New Jersey over the weekend to watch his nephew in a United States Amateur Baseball League 10-and-under tournament at North Edison Little League. Soto was there for two games Sunday, watching his nephew's New York Bluebirds out of Manhattan take the title with a 7-2 victory over the New Jersey Cardinals from Mountainside.
"My coach told me that a guy in the stands was Juan Soto," Cardinals center fielder Patrick McKeever, 10, said. "And I didn't really believe it at first. My teammates kept trying to get me to look, and I realized it was him."
Did having one of Major League Baseball's young superstars at the game have an effect?
"Yeah," Patrick said. "I wanted to do better to impress him."
While the Bluebirds celebrated their victory with photos on the field and the presentation of awards, Soto approached the Cardinals and offered to sign autographs and take pictures with the team.
"I was wondering what was taking them so long to come off the field after the game," said Patrick's mother, Jaime McKeever. "And another mother said, 'There's a Major League player out there. He won the World Series last year.' So, of course I had to go down there and see him."
Wearing a mask, Soto chatted up the Cardinals and signed baseballs for about 20 minutes before posing for a team picture. He also offered encouragement to the players.
During the game, the Cardinals' pitcher attempted a pickoff throw at second base that went into center field. As the runner rounded third and sprinted toward the plate, Patrick fired home. His one-hop throw to the catcher was in time, according to his father, Dan McKeever, but the runner slid around the tag.
But Soto noticed the throw.
"When I went to get his autograph, he said, 'I saw you in center field. That was a nice throw,'" Patrick said.
And Juan Soto knows a thing or two about nice throws from the outfield.
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