Little League World Series shortstop with Port Arthur connection turns into highlight reel

Published 12:20 am Friday, August 25, 2023

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ESPN’s coverage of the Little League World Series recently highlighted a play by Needville, Texas infielder Dalyn Martin, who is the son of a Port Arthur man.

Dalyn Martin, 12, fielded a ground ball with a slide, popped up and spun around before throwing out a runner at first base.

Now his Needville team is playing for the American championship at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The game can be viewed on ABC.

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Dalyn is the son of Damon Martin, who is a Stephen F. Austin High School graduate and Gelcys Martin. Dad Damon said he often hears people compare his son’s skills to his own, when he was a youngster playing baseball in the American League in Port Arthur.

That team had a good streak of scoring but never got as far as his son’s Needville team.

“A lot of people compare him to what I did, his skillset to mine, it mirrors what I did at that age,” Damon Martin said.

Damon played baseball up through a portion of his high school, then switched to pursue football. He later played football at Sam Houston State University.

Pictured this month at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, are Martin family members, from left, Damon, Dalyn, Giuliana, Dylan and Gelcys Martin. (Courtesy photo)

Gelcys was athletic, as well, playing volleyball and basketball in high school and later college basketball. She is currently a health and wellness coach and business owner.

When asked how Dalyn prepares mentally for the games, Gelcys said her children have a strong morning routine in which they thank God for giving them another day, show gratitude and visualize and manifest what they want and how they want their day to go; lots of positivity.

She said he takes a good 20 minutes meditating, visualizing what he wants to do in the game. He prays about it. He prays there are no injuries and prays for wisdom.

“It’s more of a mindset and he puts it all together,” Gelcys said.

The Martins made sure Dalyn had the right training and support from the very beginning.

“We kind of saw this coming when he was younger and wanted to make sure he was in the right Little League,” Damon said of the move to play on the Needville team.

The Needville team had many steps to get to the spot they are in now, winning area, district, sectional, state and regional.

Baseball is an expensive sport, especially select ball, and Damon believes back when he played in the American League on an all-Black team there wasn’t much financial backing to send the children to events such as the one Dalyn is in.

Because of this, Damon founded Goal Wood Elite Baseball Academy, a nonprofit with a goal of giving minorities and underprivileged youth opportunities they may not normally have access to and a “level the playing field.”

Dalyn’s trainer is Pedro Vargas, aka Pete Rock, the man who trained Alex Rodriguez, Damon said.

Vargas is also part of The Goal Wood and one of the coaches.

Damon said he hopes to set up a nonprofit in Port Arthur and increase minority participation in the sport, saying too many of our children have no option to play.