By Nate Schweers
When Emanuel Dean got the call that he would be participating in the PG All-American Classic, it accomplished a goal that he has been working on since first attending a Perfect Game event five years ago. Hard work and some sacrifice have paved the way for Dean to compete in San Diego on August 12 and he couldn't be happier.
"I was actually laying in my bed, and I had just gotten a call that I would be participating in the Area Code Games," said Dean. "I was wondering when I would find out, and I actually got a call right after. It was such a blessing.
"I remember going to my first PG event when I was 13 years old, and I got to watch the All-Americans in San Diego. I told myself that I wanted to work hard and make it there myself some day. It is truly just such an honor."
Dean, who is a native of Anaheim Hills, California, will be traveling just 90 minutes down Interstate Five to get to Petco Park for the Perfect Game All-American Classic. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound outfielder has had an impressive summer on the travel ball and showcase circuit, and that is what ultimately helped earn him a spot on the West Squad roster.
While many players will come from opposite ends of the country to participate in this year's PG All-American Classic, Dean is excited about the opportunity to showcase his talents in front of his friends and family. They have supported him the whole way, and now they will get the chance to see his hard work come to fruition.
"It is going to be so much fun playing in front of them just because they have supported throughout my entire journey as a baseball player. They are going to be so proud to see me play and to see all that hard work pay off, especially my grandpa. He loves sports so much, and he is always happy to see me play. I love making them happy and proud."
Outside of the game, scrimmages and home run derby, one of the things that make the Perfect Game All-American Classic so special is the chance to give back in the San Diego community.
Every year, all the participants in the PG All-American Classic get a chance to visit and raise money for the patients at Rady Children's Hospital. With the proceeds of the Classic going to pediatric cancer research and treatment, it is a great opportunity for these players to meet the kids that look up to them.
"I'm really looking forward to going to Rady Children's Hospital. It is such a blessing to get the chance to go there and see all these kids that have cancer. It is a reminder that I should be grateful for what I have because there are others that would love to be in my shoes."
Dean has been playing sports, and his good health and physical gifts are a large part in that. Dean knows that being an All-American is a privilege, and his chance to give back is one that he will not take for granted.
"To play baseball every single day and to be a Perfect Game All-American is just such a blessing," Dean said. "It gives us a chance to meet these kids, work with them, and have fun with them."
With such a big frame, Dean found himself excelling on both the baseball and football field early in his high school career. Though he had a passion for both sports, baseball has always been Dean's favorite.
"Last year I actually stopped playing football because I went to a San Diego showcase with [Perfect Game] and there was an article that came out that said I was more of a football player. My first love was always baseball, and I used football to enhance my abilities on the baseball field. I felt like I wasn't getting better at a quick enough pace, and so I started to focus on just baseball. It has worked out, and I'm grateful I made the decision when I did."
While he's not going to be on the football field at Servite High School this fall, he will certainly be getting his work in behind the scenes. A gym rat by nature, Dean loves to workout and find ways to get better during the down time he has.
"When I'm not on the baseball field I really like to train a lot and get an edge," said Dean, who also noted its important to relax too. "I'm a teenager, so I like to go and hangout with my friends by the beach and just have fun. I love that I have good friends that support me as well and know what I'm trying to do. Going to the beach and playing basketball helps give me those breaks."
Breaks here and there are much needed for a teenager that is working to become the best baseball player he can be. On top of baseball, Dean is working hard in the classroom so he can excel in the next step of his journey: college.
Dean is committed to playing his college baseball at UCLA following his graduation next spring. A member of a 2019 recruiting class that ranks as the 19th-best in the country by Perfect Game.
"I was born and raised in Los Angeles for the first eight years of my life, so it is close to home for me and about an hour away from my house. UCLA was a dream school for me because their academics are really good."
Dean also attends high school with the son of UCLA Baseball head coach John Savage. As Dean got to know coach Savage's sons, he knew that he was a man he could play his college baseball for. Dean isn't the only PG All-American that believes they can excel under the direction of coach Savage. Corbin Carroll will be joining Dean in Los Angeles next fall, as well as on the West Squad at the Classic.
"I wanted to go to UCLA from the first jump, and right when I got there I fell in love with the campus and the program. I feel like I can develop as a baseball player if I go there, and they can help me achieve my dreams. It is the best fit for my family, and I can play the game and become a better person."
Emanuel Dean is working hard to accomplish all of his goals on and off the field. Sometime the sacrifices can feel like too much, but moments of recognition can make the end reward that much sweeter. For Dean, the Perfect Game All-American Classic is one of those moments that make the hard work, sweat, and sacrifice worth it.