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BY DANIEL JEAN-LUBIN | James Usher. Remember the name because this kid is going places.
The Village native is a star baseball player who recently capped off an excellent junior season with his varsity program at Trinity High School on the Upper West Side.
As a 7-year-old, Usher was first introduced to baseball through Francisco Perez, a former minor league player. Perez is director of baseball operations for the New York Gotham, which plays at Pier 40, one of New York City’s premier youth travel teams, known for their quality collection of talent.
Usher spent most of his early years playing in the Greenwich Village Little League, starting out in the league’s Minors division and going through the Majors division. Beginning as an infielder, Usher was always seen as talented and athletic.
“He began to come into his own when he was 9, in the Minors,” said George Usher, James’s father and coach on most of his G.V.L.L. teams.
“Once, one of our pitchers left the team the night before our first game and we needed someone to pitch,” George recalled. “Never having done it, James volunteered and pitched three hitless innings. He’s been moving forward ever since. The next year, he became a catcher because the team needed a catcher.”
During his G.V.L.L. career, James provided a solid bat to go along with his versatile position play. A career .300 hitter, James has always been a player coaches have called upon to deliver in crunch time.
“He’s always been clutch as both a hitter and a pitcher,” said his dad, a past president of G.V.L.L. “He’s the guy you want up when the game is on the line. He’s the guy you want on the mound when it’s do or die.
“There have been a lot of games where he’s stood out,” George continued. “For instance, when he was playing in the Juniors Division as a 14-year-old, there was a tournament team that featured players from Greenwich Village Little League, Peter Stuyvesant Little League and Downtown Little League. At a pivotal point in a game against the Harlem Little League, with runners on base, his coach told him to bunt, but he told the coach he knew he could hit the pitcher and wanted a shot. He then launched the ball over the fence at Murry Bergtraum Field for a home run, putting the team ahead.”
James Usher is entering his senior year of high school in the fall and was recently named captain of his varsity team, the Trinity Tigers, by longtime coach Jake Rabinowitz, who also manages another of Ushers’s summer league teams, the New York Gotham. James hasn’t yet committed to a college at this point, but is currently interested in a number of top-tier programs both as a pitcher and first baseman.