Ygenio Booker didn't come home to Brooksville with a national championship, but after a week in Colorado he did return with a lifetime worth of memories. Booker, a 1989 Hernando High graduate, played leftfield for the Manatee Community College baseball team, which finished runner-up to Howard (Texas) College last week in the Junior College World Series.
"Regardless of coming in No.
2," Booker said, "I think the season was worthwhile. It was fun."
The World Series was played in Grand Junction, Colo., where Booker said he and his Manatee teammates were treated like stars for a week.
"It was wild," said Booker, a shortstop at Hernando High who signed with Manatee after attending a tryout camp two years ago.
"We'd get to the stadium, and kids would come running up to you, asking: "Can I have your autograph? Can I have your hat? Can I have this, can I have that?'
The trip also allowed Booker and his teammates to do some sightseeing in the Rockies.
"I was just looking at the mountains, and how big they were, and thinking: "Gosh, I'd hate to fall off the top of those,'
" said Booker, the state's junior-college RBI leader with 63 in 1990.
"I've been out of the state of Florida before, but I've never been to a place where you never expect you're going to be. It was a great experience."
Booker and Manatee also found time to play a little baseball during their week-long excursion.
Manatee entered the eight-team, double-elimination tournament ranked second in the country. It opened with a 16-0 victory over Iowa Western; was upset 8-6 by Glendale, Ariz.; eliminated Iowa Western 16-3; beat Glendale 4-2 in a rematch; eliminated Glendale with a 10-8 victory the third time the teams met; and, in the tournament's final round, lost 7-2 to Howard on Saturday.
Manatee, which finished its season 46-7, trailed Howard 3-2 heading into the sixth inning of the title game.
"We were in it," said, "but we lost it all in the sixth."
Booker finished the World Series with four home runs. He returned to Brooksville on Sunday and has spent the past three days hoping to hear that his name had been called in Major League Baseball's amateur player draft, which began Monday and concluded Wednesday.
Booker, who likely will attend a four-year NAIA school if he does not get drafted, had not heard any good news by early Wednesday night. He still was hoping to receive word that he was a late-round selection.
"I've got my fingers crossed," Booker said.