Down in central Florida where Disney World and the resorts are a reason to imagine, Tony Melendez and his wife Jessy are in a reality world with baseball. The founders of T M Baseball Training Academy in the Bronx where success has come with youngsters developing their game the past ten years, have expanded to their baseball world in Orlando.
The Eagles Nest baseball diamonds, where three bald eagles can be seen flying overhead and nesting above the light stands is another home for the proper technique of learning and playing the game of baseball. The City of Orlando supervises the fields and with an arrangement with the Orlando “Pony” Baseball League, Melendez has another proper baseball vehicle down south where baseball is played everyday.
“Growing and maturing,” Melendez said in between drilling kids in the outfield under the hot Florida sun. “This is where it all starts.” And the same techniques have been a continued process in the Bronx where T M is still considered home. Tony will make his trips back and forth from the Bronx to Orlando, as will Jessy as they prepare for their annual summer camp for youngsters that runs eight weeks beginning at the end of June at the nearby Castle Hill Little League Field.
But the training in Orlando has a different atmosphere. The fields are more spacious and baseball with the training is all outdoors, whereas in the Bronx, most of the training and planning is supervised indoors in warehouse space within a commercial area on Seabury Avenue.
Melendez, born and raised in the Bronx with 25 years of training experience, flirted with the sports of boxing and mixed martial arts before his baseball mentality came into play. At one time he was one of the trainers when it came to conditioning Hector Camacho, the three-time boxing champion from Puerto Rico and Spanish Harlem who passed away from gunshot wounds in 2012.
So there is that technique of preparing for the game of baseball. And they don’t discriminate at T M in the Bronx or in Orlando. Kids start at 3-years of age, and there one of them is on the field with Tony and his son Anthony four days a week at the Orlando site. Girls are also welcome because softball training is available in the Bronx location with anticipation of that also expanding to Orlando.
“The Bronx is still our home and it is difficult going back and forth but you see how the kids respond and that is the reward,” says Jessy. She handles the daily operation when recruits come and sign up for sessions or the summer camps, including the two-week camp down in Orlando that will take place in mid July. The Amateur Athletic Union of the USA, (AAU USA) with their home office in Orlando by ESPN Wide World Of Sports are in meetings with T M and there are plans for their Orlando facility to host tournaments and clinics in a joint effort.
What makes it work also is the support of parents. One is telling another, and at the Orlando site the infield, outfield, hitting and running drills are getting busier. Daniel Torres, an Orlando resident and youth baseball coach is very supportive with the recruitment and on the field with Tony on a daily basis.
Says Tony about Daniel: “He’s a true believer as to what we do as are the parents.”
“Something really good is going on here that has not happened here in the past,” said Torres. The one issue for now is dealing with the late afternoon when torrential rains hit the area and that causes the kids and Tony to run off the field and cut the sessions short.
But they go right back at it the next day, and like any good training academy the sessions are expanded to make up for lost time. At 7pm, the high school and college talent that are looking to improve their game are on the field and Tony drills them until the lights go out at Eagles Nest Field at 10pm.
More information about T M Baseball Bronx and Orlando: www.tmbaseballacademy.com or call direct: (347) 657-0052