Petit raised in Venezuelan baseball hotbed

Yusmeiro Petit
Hometown: Maracaibo, Venezuela

Yusmeiro Petit was born in a good place for baseball.

Maracaibo is a baseball hotbed that produced the only Hall of Famer from Venezuela, shortstop Luis Aparicio. Petit began playing baseball at age 3. He grew up admiring Wilson Alvarez, a left-handed pitcher who threw a no-hitter for the White Sox in 1991 when Petit was 8 years old.

At 10 years old, he played second base for Maracaibo in the 1994 Little League World Series; his team earned Venezuela its first championship. Who was one of his teammates? Giants catcher Guillermo Quiroz.

He has two brothers who played baseball as teenagers but not beyond. One co-owns an auto parts store with Yusmeiro in Venezuela.

When Petit told his parents at the end of high school in 2001 that he wanted to pursue baseball instead of an education, his father gave him a deadline: He had a year to get signed or he would go to college. Petit worked morning, noon and night -- on the field, in the gym, on the running track. The Mets signed him for $20,000 eight months later.

Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.