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Montgomery High baseball coach Manny Hermosillo needed to pinch himself as he pulled on an Aflac All-American jersey and posed for pictures with Baseball Hall-of-Famer Ozzie Smith on Wednesday at Petco Park.
Hermosillo was introduced as the West coach for the fifth annual Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic that will be played on Aug. 11 at San Diego State’s Tony Gwynn Stadium. He’s the first Hispanic coach chosen for the game that is baseball’s equivalent of the McDonald’s All-American Basketball game.
Not bad for a kid from Tijuana is who has been living the American dream. Hermosillo came to San Diego in the 10th grade, graduated from San Diego State, started teaching at Montgomery and is now one of San Diego’s most successful baseball coaches after 24 years at the school.
“Not bad at all,” Hermosillo said. “I’m sure there are many great Hispanic coaches they could have picked. I’m very proud to have had a chance to succeed in America, and a lot of it is due to baseball.”
Hermosillo’s teams have won 15 league titles, one CIF San Diego Section title, produced two Major League players (Padres infielder Oscar Robles and Florida Marlins’ pitcher Sergio Meitre) and many more college scholarship players.
Smith was introduced at Petco as the honorary chairman for the Aflac game that brings him back to the city where he began his Major League career with the Padres. He’s still a beloved figure among Padres fans from his time here in 1978-81 before he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.
“When I heard the game was in San Diego, I was excited,” Smith said. “It’s like it was written.”
Two San Diegans selected among the top 38 high school juniors in the nation were Valhalla pitcher/shortstop Ryan O’Sullivan and Fallbrook first baseman/outfielder Clark Murphy. O’Sullivan follows in the footsteps of his brother, Sean, a 2004 Aflac All-American, as the first brothers chosen for the game.
“Every kid wants to play in this game, but I was so happy when I heard the news because my brother played in this game,” he said. “I’m very proud we’re the first brothers.”