While the Red Hawks baseball team takes the field at Yogi Berra Stadium throughout the season, the true home team plays while most students are home for the summer. That team is the independent minor league baseball team, the New Jersey Jackals.
If you were to head over to one of their games, you would catch a glimpse of one of the Jackals’ best players as he steps up to the plate. Arthur Charles, standing at six feet, six inches, is the man who likes to go by “Art.”
With the height of a basketball player but the heart of a baseball player, the 25-year-old first baseman has been displaying his skills at the plate and on the diamond in a spectacular fashion this season. The California native left his family and friends behind to pursue his lifelong dream of playing baseball in the Major Leagues.
Playing the game since the young age of three has given him a personal drive that makes him hungry for competition.
“I feel like life wouldn’t be the same without competition or baseball,” Charles said, attributing his competitive edge to his family.
He credited his parents and younger siblings as his biggest support system. Charles grew up playing basketball and baseball, but chose to follow the path of the ball with two stripes.
He would take his younger brothers to his practices and use them as motivation, working to teach them about the importance of hard work. His parents sent him to many baseball camps in numerous different states, giving him the opportunity to improve his skills and to play the game he loves.
“As good as I am, I feel I owe it to them as much as myself,” Charles said, speaking about his parents.
Charles has arguably been the best offensive player for the Jackals this season. With 29 home runs and 101 RBIs, the first baseman is leading the team in the long ball department and is sporting a .352 batting average.
If music is an art, then so is hitting. For Charles, music has been a huge part of his life. He listens to music while he does just about everything and uses it as a rhythm to hit.
“I have always grown up around music,” the slugger said. “I kind of think of hitting as dance. You’re in a dance with the pitcher and hopefully you just beat him to the spot.”
As for Charles’ career so far, it’s been one step forward and two steps back. After being drafted in 2010 by the Toronto Blue Jays, he was unable to surpass Single-A play.
In 2013, he was traded from the Blue Jays to the Philadelphia Phillies. After a successful season with the Single-A Clearwater Threshers in 2014, during which he produced 19 home runs, the first baseman was promoted to the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils in 2015.
After a little under a year with the Phils and only nine home runs, the team released him this past March. Now Charles is trying to make his big league dreams come true by playing in the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball (Can-Am League), with the Jackals.
“You got good pitchers here, good players anywhere from High-A ball to Triple-A, so you definitely see good competition all the time,” Charles said.
According to the All-Star, he’s been trying to improve all aspects of his game, while also helping the Jackals to a 62-38 record, the top seed in the Can-Am League. Charles was selected as the Can-Am League Player of the Week four times, was named the June Player of the Month and was also appointed to the All-Star team.
The ballplayer has also been in contact with a few Major League scouts as well. In June, the Jackals won a series against the Cuban National Baseball Team at Yogi Berra Stadium. During the series, Charles had two hits and was walked four times. This matchup brought a lot of hype along with it, and also a good amount of MLB scouts for the international players, although according to Charles, some were there for him too.
“My main focus is just to handle what I got to do on the field and get that [win],” Charles said.
The Jackals ended their season the top seed in the Can-Am League, making them regular season champions, and sending them into the playoffs. Charles also went out on top, setting franchise records in both the homerun and RBI categories and taking home the title of Can-Am League MVP.
“I’m still going to make something out of myself,” Charles said. “I believe I have what it takes to make it to the big leagues and play there and have success.”