MIDDLETOWN, N.J. – Like any kid playing baseball, all Big Al wants to do is hit dingers.
On Tuesday afternoon, I asked Alfred “Big Al” Delia, the now-famous 12-year-old Middletown Little Leaguer, if he would show me how he hits dingers at his team’s home field at Bodman Park.
He happily complied, and we got more than enough photos and video clips.
But Big Al didn’t want to end his personal home run derby. He kept swinging away at pitch after pitch, eventually needing to be corralled into the dugout for a brief interview.
Once done answering a few questions, his media session was over. He could go home. But Big Al headed back onto the field, wielding a fluorescent orange aluminum bat, ready to crank a few more balls over the fence.
“I love doing this,” Al said with infectious exuberance.
Al, who’ll be a seventh-grader when school starts next month, became a viral sensation when he proclaimed, “My name is Alfred Delia, at home they call me Big Al, and I hit dingers,” in an ESPN introduction video during his team’s run through the Little League playoffs. Middletown won the New Jersey championship but was eliminated during Mid-Atlantic Region play.
Big Al’s effervescent and sunny disposition perhaps explains why he’s become such a hit over the last week or so. His six-second introductory clip perfectly represents a child thrilled to simply be playing the game he loves.
And Big Al has been soaking it all in. When two older kids approached him at the local park in disbelief that they were in the prescience of Big Al, Delia nonchalantly took a couple photos with his new fans.
“I’m sitting on my couch this morning, and the views keeping going up and up and up,” Big Al said. “I was just like, ‘wow, I’m famous.’”
His approach to hitting dingers is simple: Keep your front shoulder in, keep your eye on the ball and make sure your swing is quick and easy. This natural approach to dinger-hitting has taken Big Al to heights he never thought were possible.
He’s signed autographs, marking up balls with “Big Al” in bold script, and he’s met MLB stars like Rhys Hoskins and Jose Bautista.
He’s appeared all over social media in photos and videos with his new famous pals. In a complete role-reversal, it’s the professional athletes asking the young boy to take pictures with him.
“I remember Jose Bautista saying, ‘Yo, Big Al, can I get a photo with you?’” Al said. “I was just like, what, really?’ He was just like ‘Yeah, get in here!’”
Everyone seems to want a piece of Big Al, and that can get overwhelming and sometimes downright immoral. Within a day of Big Al’s video making the rounds on social media, websites began selling-shirts with Al’s face printed on it without the family’s permission, shirts that are still being sold.
Angela Delia, Big Al’s mom, has been concerned with some of the craziness and hype surrounding her son, and she’s justifiably keeping a watchful eye out for him, making sure her son has a blast but is also safe.
“As a mom, I have to be very protective,” Angela said. “All his supporters, family, friends, even strangers have been very supportive and also protective. Having that behind me is huge as a parent.”
With Big Al’s glorious moment in the spotlight not over yet, Angela can’t help but beam from the dugout as she watches her son doing one of the things he does best: hit dingers.
“It’s a little kid’s dream come true,” Angela said. “I’m very proud of him, and my husband is very proud of him. This is the best time of his life.”