For the past three seasons, Jonathon Cisneros has been one of the top hitters in the Heartland Conference and the NCAA South Central Region for St. Mary’s University. He has played in 160 games, hitting 21 homeruns, driving in 153 runs and scoring 135, while hitting .389. He has also shown a strong glove in the field, posting in a .980 fielding percentage in 928 chances over the last three years. He has been named All-Heartland Conference each of the last three seasons.
This past summer Cisneros took his game to another level – and another time zone – as he traveled to Palmer, Alaska, to play in a summer baseball league. The experience, on the field and off, was one that Cisneros will remember for a long time to come.
Q: You played baseball this past summer. Where did you play?
A: I went to Alaska this past summer…Palmer to be specific. It is about 45 minutes outside of Anchorage.
Q: What was your schedule like with practices and games?
A: Our schedule was pretty crazy – I didn’t know what day it was, ever. Our coach was real strict on time and when we would play at 7:30, we would have batting practice at 3, so we would have to be at the field by 2:15 almost every day. So we would warm up from 2:15 to 5 and then we would go back, dress and be back on the field for pregame before 6. We would stay another hour or so after the games for the game wrap up and then we would head out to our general manager’s house, because after every game his wife would cook dinner for us. So I would finally get home would 2 a.m., go to sleep and wake up at 1 to start the whole day over again.
Q: Was this an exchange program where you stayed with a family or was it more of a dormitory set up?
A: It was a host family. People would volunteer their house for us players. But the GM and his wife would go for visits and do background checks to see if they would do well. I had probably the coolest host mom ever. It was a one story house, but we had our own rooms. It was huge and out in the woods and we lived about five minutes away from (former vice-presidential candidate and governor of Alaska) Sarah Palin.
Q: Really? Did you ever see her around or at your games?
A: No, but her daughter Bristol Palin would come to our games and we got to meet her.
Q: How many games did you play while you were up there? What was your overall record?
A: We played a total of 47 games, 45 league games and 2 non-league games. I think our final record was 39-18.
Q: What was the best thing about playing in Alaska?
A: The best thing about playing ball up there was…I don’t know…all of it. It was so much fun; it really was the experience of a lifetime. I had never been that far from home before, and it’s crazy to think that we were closer to Russia than we were to Texas during our stay up there. There was me and five other guys there from Texas.
Q: What were the worst things about playing in Alaska?
A: Palmer was a really small town, so there really wasn’t much to do besides playing ball. I guess I’m just used to living in a big city like San Antonio with lots of things to do.
Q: Not including baseball, how did you spend any spare time?
A: The coolest thing is going white water rafting. I had never done that before and I was not a big fan of water so it was kina scary, but fun. Towards the end of the trip when everything calmed down is when we went into the river itself. We got to float a ways down and it was like 31 degrees – it was cold but it was awesome. We also saw a lot of moose and some bears. One night we decided to chase them and got to take some pictures of them. We probably watched movies the most – I mean we watched a lot of movies.
Q: What did it take for you to get to Alaska?
A: I’m not sure. I mean I was kind of shocked because it is such a big deal to get invited over there. I asked around and I was the only person to get invited from San Antonio. And my former summer league coach said that I was the first player he has ever coached that was been represented like that.
Q: Did any of your family go with you or come to visit?
A: No. I told them not to because I really wanted to experience this on my own. I got a chance to grow up a little bit and see what is out there. I kind of wish that they did come to visit. Because a lot of my teammates parents would come up and when they came to the games they got to throw out the first pitch. I thought that was pretty neat – my dad would have loved that.
Q: Just curious, how cold was it up north compared to the heat and humidity of San Antonio?
A: The coldest it got was 41 degrees at game time, but hottest was 80 degrees. People were complaining how hot it was. Me and all the Texas-boys liked the weather though, because that is fall weather in San Antonio.