Fifteen years ago, Devon Travis was about to turn 12, and just a few months away from one of the biggest adventures of his life.
In 2003, Travis starred on the East Boynton Little League team that gained nationwide attention, as it advanced all the way to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., before falling to Tokyo’s Musashi-Fuchu All-Stars. In the 15 years since, Travis starred at Palm Beach Central, Florida State and is now playing second base for the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Whenever anybody asks me about the Little League World Series, I think my first words, initially, are: ‘I was just playing baseball. I was just having fun. It’s just a game. Baseball is truly just a game,’ ” Travis said. “Sometimes, you can get caught up in all the other stuff that comes along with it. It’s what I preach to every single kid I talk to. It’s to have fun with this. Let everything just happen.
“When you’re 12-years-old and playing baseball just because you love the game, you have a lot more success and it’s a lot more fun.”
On Saturday, Palm Beach Central honored Travis and fellow Broncos alumnus and major leaguer, World Series champion Brad Peacock, with baseball-styled plaques with their high school jersey numbers on them on the fence at the Palm Beach Central baseball field.
“This is where it all started for me,” Travis said. “I learned more here than I’ve learned in my entire life. It’s really special. It gives me the chills; it brings tears to my eyes.”
Travis — who has a career batting average of .292 in three seasons as second baseman for the Blue Jays — said people ask him about the Little League World Series often
“It was really cool to do that for this town, for this city, for this county,” Travis said. “To bring so much excitement and joy to fans in Boynton and, really, in the state of Florida.”
Tony Gullo, who is now head coach at Palm Beach Central, was an assistant when Peacock and Travis played for the Broncos. He remembers Travis in the Little League World Series as well.
“I remember him hitting a home run and having a big, old smile on his face, rounding the bases,” Gullo said. “And I remember his dad, who was the third-base coach … dancing with the mascot in the third-base box.”
Gullo also coached Peacock, who helped open the school’s baseball program, when the Astros pitcher played third base for the Broncos. After five nondescript years in the major leagues, Peacock enjoyed a breakout season last year for Houston, going 13-2 with a 3.00 ERA.
“Watching these guys on TV and everything, it’s just mind-blowing,” Gullo said. “I was a nervous wreck with Brad in the World Series.”
Peacock pitched in four World Series games for Houston, giving up just two runs on four hits in 7 1/3 innings. But even with a World Series ring, it still meant a lot for Peacock to be honored at his alma mater Saturday.
“What they did for me here,” he said, “it’s just an honor.”