2018 WORLD SERIES CHAMPION Red Sox’s now LA Dodgers’ Pitcher: JOE KELLY RECOGNIZED by the City of Corona

Wednesday May 1, 2019

Flying High with Fides By: Antoinette Ceniza

From Left to Right: Council Member (D5) Wes Speake, Vice Mayor Jim Steiner, Council Member (D1)Jacque Casillas, Mayor Jason Scott, LA Dodgers Pitcher Joe Kelly, Council Member (D4)Yolanda Carrillo, City Treasurer Chad Willardson

Edited by Steven Piasecki /Krischan Piasecki

Welcome Home, Joe Kelly!”

There might have been a storm brewing that Wednesday, the 16th of January 2019, but it didn’t discourage supporters of Joe Kelly. The fans of the LA Dodgers’ new pitcher waited in a very long line and flocked outside the Council Chambers at the Corona City Hall that afternoon. The City of Corona hosted a “Meet and Greet” reception from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at 400 S. Vicentia Avenue for their popular Corona High School alumni. Afterwards was an awarding ceremony to recognize his outstanding baseball career achievements. Close to a thousand people showed up for the chance to meet, take photos, get an autograph, or even just have a glimpse of their local hero. There was a very festive atmosphere throughout the hallway as each fan waited for their turn to meet Joe. For the parents it was a feeling of excitement to meet a role model that grew up exactly where their own children were being raised. As far as the aspiring little baseball players go, they looked at Joe with awe and inspiration.

Before Joe was a World Series Champion, he sharpened his teeth on the sandlots of Corona’s youth leagues. He toured with prominent travel ball teams where he gained exposure to college scouts, eventually landing him a scholarship to play at the University of California, Riverside. As a freshman, he switched from an outfielder to a pitcher, where he refined his raw potential into a formidable specialty. He got an All American honor that year after leading his team to victory in the Big West Conference, then into the regional round of the NCAA tournament. His momentum continued — he secured a spot on team USA and two years later, was drafted in 2009 by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 99th pick. In 2014, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, where he was the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the 2018 World Series. After the season ended, he made a choice to come back home — where it all started — and signed a three year contract with the L.A. Dodgers.

Fortunately, even with all the commotion I was able to socialize and briefly talk to the Corona city government officials and staff, VIP guests, Joe’s family, friends, and Joe Kelly himself during the reception. He even cheerfully signed the Manila Up! International Magazine copy I had with me. A few lucky people like an avid fan, Landen Spicer along with some city staff members took photos

with him. Not all were lucky enough to have that opportunity as Joe Kelly was hurriedly ushered

inside the Chambers to commence the awarding ceremony. The place was packed with his happy supporters. An inspiring short film clip was shown to begin with the Recognition Ceremony and Council Meeting. It was put together by Joe’s good friend Chris Bowen and his team to highlight Joe Kelly’s baseball career. Cardinal Scout Jeff Ishii is so proud of Joe and he believes that Joe is one of the best competitors early on. Coach Pat Bagatourian also congratulated him and said, “I knew you will be successful. I witnessed you stand up in front of a church full of people and through tears and courage, you were able to speak about your grandpa. I knew right then and there that you are special, you have an A factor. I am proud of the family man that you’ve become and I wish for your continued success in the field and out of the field.”

The footage of messages, pictures, and facts about Joe’s career life made a very positive impact on all of us who watched it. It showed that with proper guidance and good support by family, mentors, and friends, a motivated child with the heart to succeed can make it to the top. The crowd honored Joe with a standing ovation. Thereafter, the Council presented Joe Kelly with the proclamation signed by the City Mayor of Corona Jason Scott.

Joe Kelly turned around and addressed the Council members due to the unexpected number of attendance in the Chamber on his account. “When I received the phone call, I thought it would be something small…but it turned out to be pretty big which is exciting! I really thought I would be just be hanging out with you guys!”

Joe’s dancing was featured in several occasions in the video. It is probably his Mexican-American mother Andrea Valencia’s influence on him because she is the one who asked to take salsa lessons with him. When it comes to his speed it surely came from his father, Joe Kelley Sr., a wide receiver from Vanderbilt who went to training camp with NFL’s San Diego Chargers (Edes). According to Wendy Kelly, his step-mother, Joe’s father had been coaching him through his younger years. It’s also very evident that Joe has a comedic side to him. He is known to have disguised as an old man interviewing the rapper and two-time Grammy Award Winner Nelly who has always been a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Joe also assumed a funny, goofy

character, Jim Buchanan of JWK Punta Gorda who claimed to have access everywhere through his media credentials. Skateboarding is another thing that have always been a big part of Joe’s life. It shows his very upbeat and adventurous side. It had been his passion. Just talking about it made his face glow. He recounted, “I wanted to be in the law enforcement but instead I spent a lot of time running away from them…. skateboarding at the city parks all the time, hopping over fences and grinding rails.” It gives him so much pleasure and he was so good at it that a local board shop gave him boards to use for his favorite hobby. However, a fall off a ramp while leaping over the head of his little brother brought an end to his skateboarding. He was ordered by his Dad to concentrate on baseball (Edes).

When asked how he felt moving from the outfield to being a pitcher while playing for UCR, he said he wasn’t very happy because from when he was 10 to 12 years old, he was playing too much and his arms started to hurt. He couldn’t pitch more than 8 innings. However, his college coach told him that he had no power with the bat but has a good arm. Joe added, “I got on the mound practicing and it came out pretty good and it just went from there.”Joe Kelly explained that when asked, he doesn’t really remember anything when he played at the World Series on 2013 because he was a young player then, he didn’t enjoy it, and they didn’t win. This time around, he made a mental effort to actually enjoy it and play baseball as he played it in Santana Park. He also felt that with the Red Sox Team, they were so close to each other that it was like when he was a little kid. “ I was just out there playing baseball and having fun! Going out to the mound that way, you pitch, and you know that you’ll go to the World Series! ” With regard to putting his name by the win in the World Series, he humbly said “I don’t think I deserve it, the team just happened to score after I came out of the game.” It is evident that what matters to Joe the most about playing baseball first and foremost is enjoying it and having fun.

After his reminiscing mood, he got back to the amazement of everybody’s presence. He expressed his appreciation for the huge amount of support that he received from his local community that day. “It’s such an honor standing in front of you guys who do a lot of cooler things…I just happen to throw a baseball fast.” It was an even more meaningful experience since the special occasion was graced by the presence of Joe’s immediate family, his wife Ashley, and son Knox, his Dad Joe Kelley Sr., his stepmother, Wendy his brothers Chris, Mikey, and Nolan and his sister Lennae. His coaches, other extended relatives and friends were also there for him. It was brief but a very worthwhile ceremony.

“From the City of Corona and all of us at Manila Up! Internationational Magazine, we are happy to have you back in Southern California! Welcome back, the pitcher who’s full of surprises, the Amazing Joe Kelly!” Photos courtesy of Wendy Kelly, Steve Burke, Shane Spicer, Michelle Nissen, and Cindy Solis

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