Jonathan Esponda, the 8-year-old whose dancing fan-cam video went viral last year after a Marlins- Phillies game, is back in the ballpark.
The charismatic third-grader and his family returned to Marlins Stadium Tuesday night for another Marlins-Phillies match-up.
This time, Jonathan had a special invitation in hand: He was selected to throw out the first pitch.
The Hialeah youngster’s excitement while sitting in the dugout was so over-the-top, it was almost uncontrollable.
“Mama, this is where the Marlins baseball players sit! Right here on this spot!” yelled Jonathan, who attends Mae Walter Elementary School in Hialeah.
Though he claims to admire all the players equally because “they’re a team.” his biggest inspiration is his all-time favorite player is pitcher Jose Fernandez.
“Today I’m going to pitch the first ball like Jose Fernandez, because I have an arm like his, and I can pitch hard like him and get a strike, I don’t want them to hit the ball,” he said. “That third strike, I want to do it.”
The third-grader, whose identity had been unknown, was located last week by local radio station Nuevo Zol, 106.7 FM.
Nuevo Zol searched for Jonathan through social media and radio ads and finally contacted his parents.
The video of Jonathan’s enthusiastic reaction after seeing himself on the stadium’s big screen has been circulating the web since last year and has garnered more than 3,000 likes.
It’s been trending on Twitter under hashtags #DancingKid and #NiñoBailarin and has been the source of dozens of memes and reproductions, meanwhile capturing the attention of international media.
“When I told my friends I would be throwing the first pitch, they were so excited,” said Jonathan.
“But I told them relax,” he added with a mischievous smile.
Idelmis Alvarez, Jonathan’s mother, still can’t believe that her son’s dance went viral. Yet, she says she’s not entirely surprised since her son has always loved music and plays instruments.
“Honestly, he’s danced since he was little,” said Alvarez. “I’m used to seeing him dance, but to see it on a video, spread on social media, it was exciting but nerve-wracking.”
Despite being a fan of Pitbull, Jonathan says his hip movements can be attributed to his parents.
“I learned to dance from my mom and dad,” he said. “They danced Salsa, something you have to dance with feeling, you know?”
But for now, Jonathan’s sights are not set on dance.
“I want to play for the Marlins when I grow up,” he said.
“I feel very happy, thanks to the coach and everyone who invited me, thanks to the Marlins. Thanks to my parents and all of my family, that are here in my heart with me. Thanks to them, I’m here.”
Jonathan currently plays in a Little League baseball team in Hialeah’s Jose Marti park.