Softball is a family affair

Anyone playing the Computer Services team at softball will notice that one name – Whittaker – dominates the team sheet. It’s no coincidence, they’re all related.

Jonathan

Jonathan plays in the very competitive Co-Ed League too. Photo: Ron Shillingford

Captain is Rex, his younger brother Peter is leading scorer, Rex’s wife Dionne is a top player and their little boy Jonathan is only 12 but already an integral part of the team.

That’s not all, in the crowd is always mum Lydia who instilled their love of the sport in the first place.

Computer Services went through the whole Government League season undefeated thanks mainly to Peter’s formidable batting but suffered their first loss to Immigration Enforcers 11-7 on Sunday.

It was the first of a best of three series and there’s no doubt in the Whittakers’ mind that they will bounce back Sunday week at the Field of Dreams.

‘We were missing two key players,’ said Rex. ‘Our regular pitcher was off island and one of our starting outfielders was also away. So we had to make some changes to fill the gaps. My wife normally plays left field and had to pitch and Jonathan was left field. Hey, you win some and lose some. We didn’t play well but will come back from that when our two key players return.’

Rex, 39, grew up in Texas and moved to Cayman in 1982 when his Caymanian father returned to his homeland.

‘I picked up baseball and softball at high school in Texas. Our mother is Puerto Rican and loves both games so it was inevitable I would too.’

Rex also practiced martial arts. The discipline gained from that sport helped him become a coach for the Cayman national women’s softball team that went to the 2003 Olympic qualifiers in Puerto Rico. Dionne is one of the island’s best softball players and Peter’s big hitting hasn’t brought him many home runs this season but his heavy shots help clean up the bases.

‘Peter brings in the bases, doubles and triples,’ said Rex. ‘We all play softball in the Co-Ed Corporate League for Tele Cayman as well. It’s made up of all of us as well as close friends. We’re a very close-knit family.

‘Jonathan has been playing baseball and softball since he was five and says he wants to become a professional. He was banging on at us to play in the Co-Ed league but we felt it was a bit dangerous because the men hit it much harder and they run harder between bases. We recently let him, he’s been playing ever since and even done a double play. He’s known for his knowledge of both games and is very passionate about watching it on TV and learning all he can. Even our seven-year-old, Josh, is getting into it Tee-ball.’

Peter, 26, said: ‘Rex works for Computer Services and put the team together. I used to be on the Cayman baseball team but got too old after 18 to play (there is no senior baseball in Grand Cayman). My passion since I was a little boy was baseball. I went to Texas to play but there were complications so I came back.

‘Our sister, Carmen, used to play softball before she got married and I play fast-pitch softball as well. I recently became a father for the first time. Our son, Isaiah, is nine months old and I’ve already bought him his first ball and glove.’

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