Benicia Bambino

Our local home run hero and his dad talk all things baseball.

Nothing says small town Americana quite like the game of baseball. In Benicia, many kiddos start young, giving our community a sizable Little League crew. This year, the nine teams of Benica Little League’s Minors Section battled it out for the Spring Season; the Giants came out on top and won the Championship. Among the team’s players is Hudson Gray. At the age of nine, he can play first base, catcher, short stop, and pitcher. Moreover, his at-bat home run skills earned him the John Wood Home Run Award and a cool nickname to go with: the Benicia Bambino, a nod to the legendary “sultan of swat” Babe Ruth.  

 “It felt so good hitting my first home run; I felt really good about myself, like I could do anything,” Hudson shares.

“I like when people call me the Benicia Bambino. It makes me feel cool! A lot of strangers have come up to me calling me by my new nickname. It makes me feel good and makes me smile.”

Hudson has been playing in his backyard essentially since he could walk and has been putting in hard work with his dad and team coach Austin Gray. I asked him if he had any advice for others wanting to improve their swings (who better to ask than the Benicia Bambino, after all?).

“My dad taught me to keep my hands high to the ball and to keep my chin on the ball,” Hudson says. “It’s fun to see players improve their swing.”

Austin, a former Benicia player himself who played up to and through Benicia High School, is proud of everyone involved in this season’s win.

“It was great to see our group of players come together and play so well as a team at the end of the season,” he says. “They worked very hard to prepare themselves for the playoffs and it was amazing to see how much each of the players grew throughout the season. This championship was definitely a full team effort, it took every player on our team to pull it off.”

For someone who hasn’t hit double digits in age yet, I couldn’t help but notice how Hudson, though a super talent in his own right, keeps the “there’s no I in baseball” mantra that his dad expressed going strong.

“There were a couple other players in my league who also hit a lot of home runs this year, TJ Ingram and Nash Macenski,” Hudson says. “We had fun competing to get the next home run and they deserve to be celebrated as well! It was so fun watching the other Minors teams in the playoffs and being able to cheer them on. We all really supported each other. It also feels really good to have the younger players look up to me; I want to show them that baseball is more fun when you play hard. It makes me feel a lot of love for the game.”

True to form, he also wanted to say one last thing to everyone in his corner that I simply couldn’t leave out.

“I love playing baseball with my dad because he’s great at baseball and I love being with him,” Hudson says. “He really believes in me. I love that my mom is always cheering me on. Thank you to all of the people involved with Benicia Little League and who play in Little League who have supported me.”

You can look forward to seeing the Gray family out of the field for years to come, both coaching and playing; for them, it’s a family affair.

“I grew up playing in Benicia Little League and have such fond memories of playing on our town’s fields with my dad and my friends; it is so exciting to be able to create those same strong memories with my kids,” Austin says. “Hudson is the oldest of Greer and my kids. His younger sister, Nell, just finished her 3rd year of Benicia Little League and will be coming back again next Spring to complete her second year of Farms and his youngest sister, Laken will be starting her first year of Tee-Ball next Spring. We have many more fun-filled years of Benicia Baseball in our future!”

As for Hudson’s next moves, he’ll play on the 10U District All-Star Team, followed by the 10U Benicia Wolfpack Team; stay tuned to see where the Benicia Bambino goes with the sport after that. I have a feeling we’ll all be seeing his name in headlines again.

Benicia's Little League Giants team sitting on bleachers