Published November 28, 2018


LYNNFIELD — Hard work has paid off for baseball star Fernando Gonzalez.

Gonzalez signed his national letter of intent with New Mexico Junior College during a signing ceremony in the Lynnfield High School gym on Nov. 20. In addition to Gonzalez, the ceremony featured the baseball star’s friends, classmates, baseball head coach John O’Brien and school officials.

“I feel like it’s the best decision for me to go out west,” said Gonzalez in an interview with the Villager. “I am very excited to go to New Mexico. I decided two months ago. It was either this or Franklin Pierce University. I think the hot weather will help my pitching.”

O’Brien said it’s a great accomplishment for Gonzalez to continue his baseball career at New Mexico Junior College.

“Fernando has worked hard and has made himself into a heck of a ball player,” said O’Brien. “Hopefully things will go well for him down there next year after he has a great year here.”

METCO Director Curtis Blyden agreed.

“Fernando is a really good kid,” said Blyden. “This is well deserved.”

Gonzalez acknowledged the college search process was “a little frustrating at first.”

VARSITY BASEBALL CAPTAIN Fernando Gonzalez (second from right) is given a round of applause by, from left, METCO Director Curtis Blyden, baseball head coach John O’Brien and High School Assistant Principal Brian Bates after Gonzalez signed his letter of intent with New Mexico Junior College on Nov. 20. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

“I didn’t think it would be this frustrating to pick the right school, but it was because there are so many good schools out there that fit,” said Gonzalez. “But I definitely thought this was the right one.”

Gonzalez said O’Brien helped him realize New Mexico Junior College was the right school.

“(O’Brien) helped me out a lot,” said Gonzalez. “He actually drove me to Franklin Pierce. He pointed me in the right direction and told me how this would benefit my family and I. He did a lot for me.”

Gonzalez started pitching for the Pioneers as a freshman. During his varsity debut, O’Brien said Gonzalez struck out a dozen batters in a 1-0 loss to Masco.

“That was a sign of things to come,” said O’Brien. “He is a baseball junkie. I have seen him throw 89 and 90 miles per hour. His best pitch is his fastball. He can throw the curveball, slider and changeup. He is a very smart pitcher and works well with his catcher.”

O’Brien said Gonzalez started playing first base and designated hitter during his sophomore year.

“Last year, he was a terrific first baseman,” said O’Brien. “He has worked hard and changed his whole approach hitting wise. He hits the ball very well and hits it very hard.”

Gonzalez helped lead the Pioneers to back-to-back Division 3 North finals the past two years. Lynnfield lost to Austin Prep both years.

“He pitched fantastic,” said O’Brien about Gonzalez’s performance in the 2018 Division 3 North finals.

“Even though we didn’t win, we played well,” Gonzalez added.

When asked if his goal is to make the North finals once again, Gonzalez said “absolutely.”

Blyden said Gonzalez’s work ethic is remarkable.

“Fernando is my first bus stop in the morning and the last bus stop in the afternoon,” said Blyden. “He is getting up at 5:30 a.m. for a 5:55 a.m. pickup. He rarely misses a day of school. It says a lot about his personal strength and his character. He wants to succeed by any means necessary.”

O’Brien concurred with Blyden’s viewpoint.

“He is always here,” said O’Brien. “I worked out a deal with my captains when he started playing here. He would run late every night and couldn’t get the Boston bus home, so my guys drive him to Oak Grove every night. After they drop him off, he gets on the train and heads home. The kids love him.”

Gonzalez, who is also working at Hollister in the CambridgeSide Galleria, said his daily responsibilities are a balancing act.

“It’s tough waking up at 5:30 a.m. and getting home at 11 p.m., but you get used to it,” said Gonzalez. “You have got to do it for what you love to do.”

Looking ahead to this upcoming spring baseball season, Gonzalez said he is looking forward to setting a positive tone for his teammates now that he is a senior captain. In addition to leading the Pioneers on another state tournament run, Gonzalez is looking to establish a positive team bond at the start of the season.

“I want to start the team bond early,” said Gonzalez. “I want to sit down with everyone and tell them that no matter what your job is, whether you are starting or are on the bench, it’s a big role.”

Blyden noted Gonzalez’s mother has been incredibly supportive of both her son and his younger sister, Hazel. Hazel is a Lynnfield Middle School student.

“His mom wants both of them to take advantage of every opportunity they have here so they can get the best quality education they can get,” said Blyden. “His mom works day in and day out to make sure they have this opportunity.”

Blyden also said O’Brien has been “a great supporter” of Gonzalez

“Fernando has a strong relationship with his coach, who has been able to reinforce that message that it’s not just important to be good on the baseball field, but you have to do well in the classroom,” said Blyden.

“He has blossomed into a fine young man,” added O’Brien. “You couldn’t ask for a better kid.”

Blyden said the Lynnfield community has been “incredibly supportive” of Gonzalez.

“Having a supportive community has not only helped Fernando grow as a student, but has also been instrumental in his growth and maturity as a baseball player,” said Blyden.

Gonzalez has high hopes for when he gets to New Mexico Junior College.

“I definitely know that I am going to have to put the work in to get myself in the position that I want to be in,” said Gonzalez. “Hopefully if I put in the work, I will get drafted. If I don’t end up getting drafted, I definitely want to go to a Division 1 school. I am just trying to follow my dream.”

O’Brien said the sky is the limit for Gonzalez.

“I think his talents are only just starting here,” said O’Brien. “I think he is going to do very well in New Mexico. We will see what the next chapter brings.”

In the meantime, Gonzalez and O’Brien are focused on the upcoming spring baseball season.

“We have got a nice group coming back,” said O’Brien.

Gonzalez echoed his coach’s point of view.

“Coach O’Brien has magic in his hands,” said Gonzalez. “He does a lot to help us.”