On Thursday, October 14 Colton Council Member Dr. G (Dr. Luis S González) presented the CITY TALK “Community Impact Award” to long-time Colton travel-ball organizers John Prieto and Reuben Montaño. The Colton Nighthawks were founded in 1994 to provide a summer baseball option for young men who wanted to play after the Colton High School baseball season was over.
For 26 years, John and Reuben have devoted their time, energy, and personal finances to provide a high-energy, high-profile, and high-commitment program for dozens of young baseball enthusiasts, who often continue to play baseball through college, and even to the professional ranks.
When Dr. G met with John Prieto, he was very impressed with the great stories of working with these young men, guiding them in their development, and supervising their every move as they were famously known for “winning,” as John says it, who continued, “We just want to play ball and win.”
In addition, John shared his extensive collection of news articles which of course, trumpeted the excellence of the Colton Nighthawks. He also brought with him a fine-crafted storage box that carefully protected dozens of championship rings that the Nighthawks have won over the years on both the national and international levels. “These guys are simply amazing,” exclaimed Dr. G.
Reuben Montano also offered Dr. G an impressive list of names representing former players on the Colton Nighthawks who have risen to the professional ranks. They include Justin Turner (Dodgers), Jessie Chavez (Atlanta), Jacob Webb (Atlanta), Freddie Freeman (Atlanta), Chance Sisco (NY Mets), Ian Kenney (Royals), D.J Peters (Rangers), Jacob Nottingham (Brewers), Ricky Nolasco (Dodges/Angels), Mark Teahen (Royals), Michael Lorenzen (Reds), Jake Bauers (Mariners), Kyle Hendricks (Cubs), Matt Davidson (Dodgers), Aaron Brooks (Orioles), and Jason Marlin (Reds).
As Reuben explained, “there were many others, but these were the most prominent.”
Through the discussion, Dr. G also learned that Reuben is John’s son-in-law and the nephew of Mayor Frank Navarro. He also coached baseball at Colton High School for some time, before putting together a travel ball team at the urging of his father–in–law John. The first team that was fielded was made up of players the age of his younger brother, Robert Montaño, who was 15 at the time, and John’s grandson, Mark Ayala. With no other options available they were put in a league of 18-year-olds. Although they were soundly overmatched during winter ball, they came back the following summer in the proper league (age 16) and went on to win their first four tournaments. From that time on, the succession of tournament wins and championships kept coming, and the outstanding legacy of the Colton Nighthawks was created.
When asked about their future plans, John responded thoughtfully, “Our goal is to keep the Nighthawks going as long as possible, and to continue pushing the kids to follow their dreams and excel in whatever they do.”
With this mission in mind, there is no doubt the Colton Nighthawks will continue to be a force on the baseball field, and an organization of which we can all be proud. “We are indeed fortunate to have such impactful youth leaders such as John Prieto and Reuben Montano,” says Dr. G, who added, “It’s great for the community.”
The CITY TALK “Community Impact Award” was recently established to recognize the great efforts that people make “behind the scenes” to make our community, the City of Colton, a better place. “These two gentlemen, John Prieto and Reuben Montano have done a fantastic job developing these young men over many rewarding years. They are a great choice for this recognition. Their efforts are exactly what this award is about,” smiles Dr. G, a City Council Member and well-known community advocate.
For more information about CITY TALK, various community groups, Colton history, the trash clean-up, prayer list, Veteran Spotlight, community projects and events, neighborhood meetings, or the online live-stream programs, text or call Dr. G @ 909-213-3730. Questions and comments are always welcome.