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All American Game | Story | 8/4/2011

Hinojosa looks at the big picture

Jeff Dahn     

The Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings all-star game is the grand finale to what is really four days of eye-opening experiences for the 46 top prospects selected for the event.

The game, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 14 at PETCO Park in San Diego, will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network (5 p.m. PDT) and will introduce the young players (all high school seniors in the fall) to a curious nation.

One of those top prospects is C.J. Hinojosa, a highly ranked (No. 13 nationally) infielder who attends Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas. Hinojosa eagerly anticipates playing in the game alongside the very best of his peers, but he also is looking forward to enjoying every aspect of an event that welcomes the players in on Aug. 11 and concludes on Aug. 14.

Hinojosa, who is on the West Team roster, is particularly interested in the happenings of Friday, Aug. 12. The day starts with a team breakfast, rolls into a practice session and scrimmage at the University of San Diego, followed by a break for lunch.

The big stuff follows.

The players from both the East and West teams will pile into buses and visit Rady Children’s Hospital and its young cancer patients. Proceeds from the PG All-American Classic presented by Rawlings will benefit the San Diego hospital.

There will also be a trip to the Miramar Marine Corps Base, but Hinojosa especially looks forward to engaging the young patients at Rady.

“Almost every day I wake up and I thank God for allowing me to do the things I’m allowed to do,” Hinojosa said in a telephone conversation with Perfect Game early this week. “I understand that not every kid is as fortunate and is able to do the things that most athletes get to do.”

Helping the less fortunate seems to be a family thing for Hinojosa. He told of this past winter when he and his family went into downtown Houston and served burgers and snack-packs to those in need. His mother, Rose, is a nursing home director and Hinojosa often goes to the facility and offers assistance to the elderly residents.

It’s about life,” he said. “Not everybody can do the things that we can do and, in my opinion, if you’re able to do something and help out in some way, then you should.”

Hinojosa said he also loves working with kids who are just getting started in baseball.

“It’s a blast,” he said. “There’s nothing better than being able to put a smile on someone’s face.”

The youngsters learning the game from Hinojosa will be learning from one of the best in his age group. Being named to an All-American Classic roster is the culmination of a young lifetime of hard work and dedication.

“It’s an honor. Ever since I saw (the Classic) as a freshman and learned about it, I’ve always wanted to be in that game,” Hinojosa said. “Growing up, I told my dad that was something I wanted to do, and he told me, ‘There’s nothing stopping you. You just have to work at it and keep working hard and hopefully you’ll be there.’

“When I was growing up I wasn’t one of the best players,” he continued. “It started coming to me and I just kept working at it and working at it, and that got me here today. And I still work at it.”

Hinojosa said he started playing baseball as 3½-year-old playing with 5-year-olds. He played football and basketball in middle school and thought about continuing with football in high school, but his high school baseball coach persuaded him to not risk injury and hang up the helmet and pads. Being a red-blooded Texan, it was difficult for Hinojosa to say goodbye to the Friday night lights.

“I still miss it today,” he said.

Hinojosa began his summer at the Perfect Game National Showcase, staged June 16-19 at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla. He was already recognized as one of the nation’s top prospects before arriving in Fort Myers, but impressed the PG scouts enough that his national ranking rose to No. 13.

“It was a ton of fun,” Hinojosa said. “It kind of got me set up for the whole summer and got me ready for everything that I was going to require for the next several months.”

He then went to Cary, N.C., for the Team USA trials and made the first cut, earning a spot on the initial 28-man roster.

As Hinojosa was speaking with PG over the telephone, he was preparing to leave for the 2011 Area Code Games, which run Friday (Aug. 5) through Wednesday (Aug. 10) in Long Beach, Calif. He also played in the 2010 Area Code Games as one of only a handful of participants in his class.

Hinojosa is on the Milwaukee Brewers Area Code team this year, a roster that includes fellow PG All-American Classic teammates (and fellow Texans) Nick Williams, Courtney Hawkins and Austin Fairchild.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Hinojosa said of the experience. “I get to play with some of the guys I grew up playing with, I get to enjoy the beautiful California weather and I get to play the sport that I love.”

Hinojosa may love the southern California sunshine, but his heart remains in Texas. Armed with 3.98 GPA, he has verbally committed to the University of Texas – as if there was ever any other option.

“The University of Texas has been my dream school ever since I was a kid,” he said. “I’ve always been a Longhorn, I’ve always wanted to play there and I’ve always wanted to study there. The offer came … and I couldn’t pass up Texas, being able to be a Longhorn, and study there and play ball there, and just to be able to wear the burnt orange and white.”

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