Hunter is the One : West Lynn American All-star Receives Sonny Man Hill Award

David Hunter, recipient of the Sonny Man Hill Sportsmanship Award, is pictured with his family, (seated), grandparents Thelma Hunter, Stanley Philbin, and Nancy Philbin; (standing), aunt Liz Philbin, brother Will Philbin, father David Hunter, and mother Jennifer Hunter.

David Hunter almost quit playing baseball after just starting in the T-Ball Division seven years ago.

“When I wanted to quit, my father [Lynn Police Officer David Hunter] helped me through it and told me to keep going – he was a big help,” the 12-year-old West Lynn American graduate said Sunday.

Hunter grew to love the sport and improved his skills in each of his seasons in the Minor and Major League ranks.

This season Hunter became one of the best players in the city. He helped lead his WLA Red Sox team to the City Series, made the All-Star team for the second year in a row, hit 10 runs in the regular season, and advanced to the finals of the Lynn Little League Home Run Derby.

Sunday afternoon with his family and Little League manager, Sean Leydon, looking on proudly, David Hunter received Lynn Little League Baseball’s most prestigious honor, the William “Sonny Man” Hill Sportsmanship Award at a reception at the Lynn Housing Authority.

“It’s really exciting,” said Hunter moments after accepting the large trophy. “The other finalists are all great competitors.”

Making it an even more memorable day was the fact that several members of the Hill family attended the awards ceremony.

David Hunter’s talents are not limited to the baseball field. He holds a Black Belt in Karate and also plays basketball and flag football. He is an altar server and a member of the choir at Sacred Heart Church. He is the student council treasurer at Sacred Heart School and volunteers in community endeavors such as the children’s Christmas party at St. Michael’s Hall.

David said he leaves Little League with great memories.

“My experience in Little League was awesome,” said Hunter. “I met so many new kids and my manager [Sean Leydon] was awesome. He’s the only manager I really ever had. His son [Aedon Leydon] is my best friend and we’ve been on the same team every year.”

It was Sean Leydon who nominated Hunter for the award.

“David is a great kid,” said Leydon. “As I wrote in my nomination letter, ever since he was four or five years old, he’s been picking up equipment and helping out the younger kids. I run fall clinics every year for the younger kids and he’s always been a helper. He’s always talking about baseball and he’s always positive win or lose. He really loves baseball and respects the game. I couldn’t imagine a better choice for such an important award.”

Leydon remembered when his son Aedon met David at their first baseball practice.

“After practice Aedon asked if he could go to the playground with his new friend,” recalled Leydon. “He came back and said to me, ‘this is my new best friend.’ “Little did I know that seven years later they’re still best friends and classmates in school.”

Little League Baseball has been a focal point for the Hunter family.

“My mother [Jennifer] helps in the concession stand and she also helped me the whole way,” said Hunter. “My brother [Will] is on the team and my dad was coaching so the family was there at every game.”

David Hunter, who inspired his son to continue with baseball and to embrace the joy of playing the game, said it was a proud day for the family.

“It’s been fun watching him grow up,” said Mr. Hunter. “I’m proud at everything he does. He’s a great kid, good student, and good big brother. Everything he does, he does well. He makes you feel all your work and your teachings are paying off because he does the right thing.”

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