LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — 1969 was the year David Soto fell in love.
“I got spoiled that year because basically I think three New York teams won the championship that year, including the Miracle Mets of ‘69," said Soto.
Soto was so inspired by his hometown team’s World Series win, he decided to get in the game himself. And invited others to join too.
“I started a team at public school PS 32 at the age of 11. Since then, it’s been baseball 24/7," said Soto.
For Soto, it’s been baseball 24/7 for FIFTY years. From Brooklyn to Puerto Rico to Las Vegas, Soto estimated he’s coached thousands of players - of all ages and all levels.
“We have Jose Vidro, who was an All Star for many years with the Montreal Expos. We have Joe Orloski and Justin Leone, and even the Diaz brothers," said Soto.
Although several of Soto’s players have reached the Major League, the mass majority have not. But Soto said achievement on the field is far from his only priority as a coach.
“Baseball is a microcosm of life," he said. "They’re going to deal with failure, they’re going to deal with success. They have to work as a team. They have to do things together, they have to reach conclusions. They have to agree they have to disagree.”
It’s a baseball philosophy he's shared with players and their families.
“Out of all the players that I coach, a very, very small percentage will become pros. 100 percent will become adults. That’s what we need to work on," said Soto.
Soto’s work as a coach has paid off - earning him Coach of the Year nods several times. Soto said he is grateful for the recognition but said he cherishes the smaller moments with former players the most.
“When they come back and say, ‘thank you’ and “I appreciate you,’ ‘you’re the best coach I’ve ever had in my life,’ and I say, ‘there’s more than that,’ more to baseball than coaching baseball. That’s the biggest - them coming back and saying thank you," said Soto.
We want to thank Coach Soto too, for nearly 30 years of steadfast service to our community. He is our Vegas Stronger Champion.
Vegas Stronger Champion is sponsored by Findlay Automotive.