08/04/2020 1:58 PM
By Sydney Denham
Jonathan Luders approaches home plate as the sound of Katrina & The Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” echoes through the empty seats of Fraser Field. He checks for the sign from the third base coach as he sets up in the box. A fastball comes straight down the middle from the mound and Luders bunts the ball into play.
As a Navigators runner makes it to second base, Luders sprints down the line. His speed brings him to first as the umpire extends his arms to the side, signifying Luders safe on the bag.
Jonathan Luders is a rising sophomore at Seton Hall University. The Lynnfield native played in six of the Pirates’ 14 games during the shortened season his freshman year. The 5-foot-10 second baseman debuted his offensive ability with a two-RBI double against Milwaukee on Feb. 16.
The Navigators were on Luders’ radar last year for summer ball, but the opportunity was not there. When Luders got an offer to play for the Navigators this summer, he said “of course.”
“It’s right in my backyard which is awesome,” Luders said. “I totally wanted to play for them.”
From his walk-up song to the chants from the dugout, Luders carries a light to the field when he is playing. On top of his bubbly personality and ear-to-ear smile, he is better known to the Navigators as “Sunshine.”
But where does this nickname “Sunshine” come from?
“I think I was around nine or ten,” Luders said. “I looked like the guy from ‘Remember the Titans,’ the quarterback, and he was nicknamed ‘Sunshine’ in that movie so it kind of stuck ever since.”
Navigators infielder Logan Bravo said that Luders definitely lives up to the bright connotation that a nickname like Sunshine gives off. Luders is a “ball of energy” in Bravo’s eyes and “he is a happy kid you want to be around all the time.”
“He’s the best,” Bravo said during a post-game interview. “The hair is kind of just the cherry on top.”
Bravo also said that as a player, Luders is always working hard. He always finds Luders at games early to do his pre-game routine and hanging back to talk to coaches and scouts.
Jonathan Luders admires his parents and God for all he has learned. He said that he tries to do things in life as they would and have taught him to do.
In baseball, Luders looks up to former Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt.
“He is a really good utility player,” Luders said, “and he’s a really good teammate from what I’ve heard. He’s always giving a hundred percent so I try to model and play off of him.”
Like most Red Sox fans, Luders emphasized that he misses Holt on the field at Fenway Park this season.
Outside of baseball, you can definitely find Luders outdoors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Luders even tried something new: lobstering with his neighbor. He said it was a really cool experience and hobby to get into. Besides that, Luders is usually spending time with family and friends.
“I like ping pong, I like cards, hiking,” Luders said, and it seems the list could go on.
The sound of Luders’ fist in his glove breaks the silence from second base while an opposing team player steps up to the plate. He lets his teammates know that he always has their backs. As the pitcher takes the mound, he squats low and gets ready for anything that could come his way whether it be a hit, steal or anything in between.
Although his time with the Navigators has been good, Luders comments that there is still something missing: fans.
“I really wish you guys could be here,” Luders said.