Three-sport athletes have hectic schedules, and often tough choices to make, and Jack Regenye had one this week. He decided to participate in the Junior League World Series in Taylor, and miss his high school soccer tryouts.
Something tells us his soccer coach is going to give him another shot when he arrives back home in Kennett Square, Pa.
"Maybe that'll help," Jack said, with a shy laugh.
Jack, a 14-year-old, shaggy-haired center fielder, blew up social media Sunday afternoon with a highlight-reel catch for the ages – at any level of baseball, frankly. Think Austin Jackson's wall flip earlier this month. Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds at the 2002 All-Star Game. Kevin Mitchell's barehanded snag in 1989. Willie Mays' amazing grab in the 1954 World Series.
Amazing stuff. And, what the heck, you might as well add young Jack Regenye to that list.
In the fourth inning of Sunday's Junior League World Series championship game – Pennsylvania vs. Chinese Taipei – a batter blasted a ball high toward center field. It looked so much like a certain home run, Pennsylvania's pitcher didn’t even turn around to watch.
Well, that pitcher missed quite a moment, as Jack, cool shades on and tongue sticking out, raced toward the wall, at full speed timed his leap perfectly, went flying over the fence with total and utter disregard for his body -- then caught the ball and amazingly hung onto the ball.
The Heritage Park crowd went crazy, as did Jack's teammates -- and especially his fellow outfielders. Left fielder Nick Patterson said something to the effect of, "Dude, you're crazy," and right fielder Thomas Edmonds raced over to Jack for a hug, and then whispered, "You're my hero."
"As much as I'm a proud dad, and I don't want to speak out of turn, but when he steps onto the field, he puts forth every effort," said Jack's father, Brian Regenye, an assistant coach on the team. "He does that in every sport.
"So it was no surprise to me or others, but in that situation, in that high-pressure scenario ..."
Yeah, that was special.
And, at the same time, it kicked off an odd chain of events.
Chinese Taipei's manager immediately came out and argued that the ball should be a home run, because it was caught outside the field of play. And, at first, umpires agreed with him, and the batter rounded the base for his delayed home run.
Then Kennett Square's manager, Matt Patterson, came out and stated his case, arguing the ball was caught before it left the field of play. Again, the umpires reversed the call.
Final ruling: It was an out – and, boy, it was spectacular.
"I saw the ball and then I looked for the fence, and then I heard my teammate Nick – who I've been talking a lot of crap about because he doesn't verbalize (out there)," Jack said. "This was his first time ever saying the fence was there … at least loudly. … Then I wasn't thinking anything else. I saw the ball, I jumped and I caught it."
Just like that, he became an Internet sensation for a day – video of his catch earning thousands of retweets on Twitter, from all sorts of users, and even earning a shoutout on Instagram from 44 Pro Gloves. Jack wears a 44 Pro Glove.
Jack also plays soccer and basketball, and he's played baseball since he was 4. He's played mostly center field since he was 8 – other teams' coaches often tell Kennett Square's staff that with Jack out there, it's like having four outfielders instead of three, with all the ground he covers – and it's probably no surprise his favorite baseball player is a center fielder, Andrew McCutchen, from his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Don't be shocked if a shoutout from McCutchen is coming sooner rather than later.
There was a downside to the day. While Jack's catch kept the game close early, Chinese Taipei eventually won the championship, 12-1, in five innings. Chinese Taipei is an absolute juggernaut. This was its fifth consecutive year hoisting the trophy in Taylor.
Not that it was the end result that had the web buzzing Sunday, from little old Taylor (population 60,000), and the low-profile Junior League World Series, a 13-, 14- and 15-year-old baseball showcase that, sure, gets its final aired on ESPN, but still always takes a far backseat to the attention of the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.
But not this time, at least not for one day. Thanks to Jack Regenye, who, would you believe, swears he's made better catches before.
"Yeah, I have. Yeah," said Jack, who batted .533 (8-for-15) in the tournament, and whose team is from suburban Philadelphia. "I've had one where I went back, caught it and hit my back on the fence, and a couple diving ones. But my teammates make the same plays, too. They've done the same thing.
"And I have gone crazy for them."