When was the last (or first) time you’ve seen six players on an organized adult baseball team span three generations of father-son duos? For men’s baseballer David Carrillo, this was a surreal and magical moment in his life.
In 2019, David was 39 and played an adult league baseball game with his 61-year-old dad, David’s two brothers, and two of David’s sons.
“I tried to hide it, but I kind of teared up playing third base and just looking around,” David recalls.
There are quite a few father-and-son baseball duos. Even in MLB (Major League Baseball), father and son Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. played together on the same team. But three generations is something special.
In 2024, David hopes to field an entire team of nine players with his dad, brothers, and more of his sons for a baseball tournament. Each year, the National Adult Baseball Association (NABA) hosts a World Championship Series in Phoenix, Arizona, and one of the divisions is the Father/Son/Daughter Wood Division.
The Backstory Of The Carrillo Baseball Family
The Early Days Of Baseball
David, now 42, has played baseball pretty much his entire life. He grew up in the inner city of Chicago in what he describes as a rough, violent neighborhood. In an effort to keep their five kids out of gangs and trouble, David’s parents got them into extracurricular programs like sports.
That’s when David fell in love with baseball. “My biggest love was always baseball. And I always said, as a kid, I was going to make the majors,” says David.
As a Mexican immigrant, David’s dad Nino, now 65, first played baseball when he got to the United States around the age of ten. Nino, now 65, was thrilled his sons loved the game as much as he did.
For Nino, working with his three sons David, Carlos, and Marcos to develop their baseball skills was his way to get back into the game he had to give up many years before. Nino went straight to work after high school, married early and started having kids shortly after. So baseball took a backseat.
As his kids got older, Nino got back into baseball, joining a recreational baseball league for adults. And when David was 14 years old, he and his father got to play on the same team for the first time. While David wanted to play shortstop, his father, who trained his sons to be able to play any position, put him in at catcher–all 100 pounds of him.
“Just to give you reference, I graduated high school at five-foot-six and 115 pounds. At 14, I was a lot smaller, “explains David. “I think the catcher gear weighed more than I did.”
David admits he got run over a few times. Nino told him to suck it up and treated him just like the rest of the guys on the team. David attributes his dad’s no-nonsense approach to helping him persevere and become a better player. He also credits his mother, Liza, with being the glue that stuck this baseball family together.
Once David got to high school, he played varsity baseball. And he played well. He played shortstop, outfield, and even pitched a perfect game.
But high school wasn’t without challenges. David got into trouble. He got stabbed. He changed schools a few times. And since he was only five-foot-six at graduation, recruiters wouldn’t give him the time of day. So David saw his dreams of playing major league baseball slip away.
The Days Of Adult Baseball
After high school, David decided to take a different path. He knew he wanted to show appreciation and serve his country, so he enlisted in the Marine Corps. But his recruiter enticed him with–what else–baseball. The recruiter told him the Marine Corps had its own baseball league.
David got stationed in San Diego but was deployed shortly after, so he missed baseball tryouts for the Marine Corps league. Once David got back, like with what happened to his father, life got in the way. The Marine Corps baseball team was a traveling one. And David, now with one son and a pregnant wife, didn’t try out for the team because of the time commitment and being away from home it would require.
But David wasn’t ready to hang up his bat and glove. And since the Adults Play Sports directory wasn’t around yet, David searched for men’s baseball leagues online using the old-school search engine Ask Jeeves. That’s how he found the San Diego Adult Baseball League (SDABL), which, by the way, currently has more than 100 teams in the league. He showed up to tryouts with his one-month-old son in tow (with a friend to help watch the baby), and that was his start in adult baseball.
David still plays in the SDABL, as well as the San Diego Independent Baseball League.
The Third Generation Of Carrillo Baseballers
David ended up having five sons, all of whom played baseball. David started a team of friends and family at one point, and it included his brother and two of his sons. When Nino and David’s other brother came to San Diego for a visit, that’s when they all got to play on the field at the same time. The age gap between Nino, the grandfather, and David’s son was 40 years.
I asked David what he felt at that moment seeing the generations of his family on the baseball diamond all together at once. “That Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. ain’t got sh** on that,” he joked. “It was one of those moments you put in the memory bank that’ll never be gone.”
One Last Crack At The Bat
When David learned about the Father/Son/Daughter Wood Division at NABA’s World Series tournament, he knew he HAD to try to make it happen. The fields are close to where his dad and brother live in Arizona, so it would be an easy jaunt for them to get there. David is determined to make the 2024 tournament, whatever it takes.
“I don’t care what it costs or how we’re going to do it. I don’t care if I have to go broke or sell my kidney to make it happen,” says David. “I just want to be able to feel even just one inning with all nine of us on one field.” (And just in case you’re wondering, the official name for a group of nine people is called a “nonet”).
Nino will be 66 years old, and David wants him to be able to play one last game before retiring from adult baseball.
It’s Never Too Late To Create Your Own Field Of Dreams
David echoes the words of many current adult athletes. Says David, “When I hear people say, ‘I’m too old,’ I’m like, ‘No, you’re not.'” He believes you’re never too old to at least try.
“There are so many divisions and calibers of play,” he says. “It’s just a matter of getting out there. You never know what you can do until you do it.”.
If you’re looking for a team to join, please search our online directory to find an adult baseball league near you.