Rodney Green Jr. signs letter of intent to play baseball for Cal Bears

Rodney Green Jr. signs letter of intent to play baseball for Cal Bears
Rodney Green Jr., senior at El Cerrito High, signs his letter of intent to play for the Cal Golden Bears on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (All photos by Mike Kinney)

By Mike Kinney

They may one day say that Rodney Green Jr. was discovered in a Richmond barbershop, which is true. But fans within his community have long known the El Cerrito High senior’s potential.

On Friday at Nicholl Park, family, friends and members of the local baseball community gathered to cheer once again for the speedy 6-3 outfielder as he signed a Letter of Intent to play for the UC Berkeley baseball program.

Clearly, Green deserves the lion’s share of credit for his success. But some credit also goes to one of the barbers at D-Boys Barber Shop on San Pablo Avenue. That’s where a baseball recruiting coordinator for the California Golden Bears learned about Green. The barber happened to see a Tweet about Green posted by Rob Bruno, general manager of NorCal Baseball.

He told the recruiter to check Green out, prompting the recruiter to reach out to Bruno, who then reached out to Richmond resident and baseball skipper Thomas Gary.

Coach Gary has been developing Green since Green was 7 years old.

“I saw the potential of Rodney from the very start,” Coach Gary says. “His future in baseball is very bright as both an athlete and a man.” 

His scouting report states as much. The Baseball Factory lauds Green’s speed — 6.52 seconds in the 60-yard dash — “giving him a centerfield profile.”

“He glides to balls in the outfield and can close well given his quickness,” the report said. His arm clocked at 84 miles per hour and the exit velocity of his bat was clocked at 94 mph.

“There’s a high ceiling here for a middle-of-the-field defender and a LH potential lead-off bat,” the scouting report adds.

Even with his potential, Green still feels he needs to pinch himself.

“Being from Richmond, it was hard to know if I was going to be able to make it happen, but I had to do it for all my family, my fans,” he said. “I’m just proud that I pulled through and I kept dreaming and made it a reality. I’m blessed to be in this position.”

Green certainly worked his way up. At age 7, he began playing sports with the Richmond Police Activities League’s Junior Giants program. He later played with the Wheelhouse Academy Game Changers, and then with El Cerrito High and the NorCal Baseball Club, a college and professional development program. With the NorCal team, for whom he has played for about three years, he’s traveled to Cuba twice and in many games in and out of the state.

Rodney Green Jr.

Long before the barbershop talk, Green’s talents were shining on the diamond. But Coach Gary said the “wheels started to turn” for Green at a recent Nor-Cal World Series, where he would catch the eye of professional scouts and college recruiters.

It’s not just Green’s play — it’s also his personality and intelligence that characterizes him on and off the field. Rodney Alamo Brown, the founder of Soulful Softball Sunday and a former major league scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, called Green a great ambassador for Richmond.

“I’ve seen thousands of players, but Rodney has a certain mystique about him which is invoked with talent and a high baseball IQ,” said Brown. “He is one of the nicest young men I’ve ever met, always pleasant and respectable.”

“He will make Elijah Pumpsie Green, the first Black baseball player for the Boston Red Sox and a Richmond native, proud,” Brown said.

Sharee Taylor, proud mother to Rodney Green Jr.

Coach Gary echoed the sentiment about Green’s character, saying the young ball player has put in the time and effort to be better. “I look forward to many more days like this one in Rodney’s career,” the coach said.

Green’s mother, Sharee Taylor, called her son’s impending future at UC Berkeley “thrilling.”

“I can hardly wait until Rodney puts on his jersey,” she said. “I cannot wait to actually be on the field to watch him play. He has worked very hard. I am so proud of him and his accomplishments.”

When asked what advice she has for other parents whose children want to pursue athletics.

“Always support them, always be a positive influence in their lives and always be there to lend a hand when they need it,” Taylor said.

Coach Thomas Gary (left) and Rodney Green Jr.