“Home” hasn’t often been centered in one location for an extended period of time for Joe Daru, but he’s found a comfortable place with NYIT baseball.
Born in Bangkok, Thailand, Daru became a world traveler at a young age. His mother, Nongluck, a Thailand native, and father Terry, a U.S. Diplomat, moved often due to Terry’s work. Daru lived in places such as Laos, Barbados, Hawaii, California, Florida and Washington D.C.
“It was a good experience to move around, learn different cultures,” Daru said. “The only consistent thing really in my life has been my family.”
Family, and baseball.
Daru, a 23-year-old senior outfielder at NYIT and member of the Thailand National Baseball team, started playing baseball at age 5 in Hawaii. He wanted to be like his brother, Jack, who was two years older. When in Barbados, Terry created a baseball league for Daru, Jack and other children.
“We moved around,” Daru said, “and baseball kind of just stuck.”
He remembers around age 9 getting serious about baseball. Living in Fort Lauderdale at the time, Daru said, “there were 15 kids in the neighborhood and we all played baseball. That’s what we did all the time.”
Daru went to high school at IMG Baseball Academy in Bradenton, Florida, before playing at NYIT. Before Daru’s first spring baseball game, he played for Thailand in the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in Taiwan in November 2012 in stadiums filled with more than 10,000 people. He played with American major and minor league players, like former Red Sox and Yankee Johnny Damon.
“He has a lot of knowledge and you could really tell how much he enjoys playing the game,” Daru said about Damon. “That’s probably the biggest thing I took from him is he takes it serious but at the same time, he knows how to enjoy it.”
At NYIT, Daru’s been an offensive staple since Day One. He started all 50 games as a freshman and led the team with 13 doubles while stealing 16 bases.
His speed and aggressive base running have continued to propel his baseball career. He ranks in the top 10 in program history in stolen bases (fourth, 110), triples (sixth, nine) and doubles (eighth, 40) through May 6. This season, he’s hitting .367 with 24 stolen bases and team-best six home runs after hitting just two long balls in his previous two seasons.
“I’ve been very fortunate that my coach allows me to be an aggressive baseball player,” Daru said. “He doesn’t really puts a lot of restraints on me. I think a lot of credit goes to him allowing me to really excel in that aspect.”
And for that, Daru’s thankful for his newest home.