That’s Amaury News and Commentary- MLB 88th All Star game: A Latino game

Seattle Mariners’ Robinson Cano, left, and Nelson Cruz and third base umpire Joe West laugh during a pitching change during the fifth inning of the Mariners’ baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

By Amaury Pi Gonzalez

Tuesday July 11th. It happened in Miami, Florida, where you can listen to at least 12 Spanish radio stations on your dial AM or FM at any given moment and all the Spanish television you can handle all the time. Hard to find a more Latin American city in the USA than Miami, that is where I first lived in 1961 when I left Cuba.

But as I remember back then, Miami didn’t have one team among the major three professional leagues, MLB,NFL or NBA. However, I did attended some of the old Miami Marlins (Florida State League) games and that was it. One year I was the bat boy and ball boy in some games for the Baltimore Orioles, who used to have Spring Training in Miami, at the old Miami Stadium. Back then High School football was the big sporting event in Dade County and of course the University of Miami Hurricanes, who played at the Orange Bowl.

I lived in that Orange Bowl neighborhood in NW Miami, not far from Miami’s Downtown. Later I moved to Miami Beach (South Beach) then a boring and quiet, mostly made of retired older folks from New York and New Jersey,today is Fiesta, most of the time. I remember telling a good friend, “we are in one of the most southern most cities in the USA, yet nobody speaks here with a southern accent”. It was more like a Brooklyn accent! My good friend Julio Lieberman (yes that was his name) who was Jewish, born in Argentina, explained the whole thing to me

Sunny Miami was an appropriate scenario for this year’s Midsummer Classic. I can easily remember the days when I would go to the Oakland Coliseum and Candlestick Park to do a couple of interviews with a certain Latino player. As I remember when a team back then (talking mid to late 1970’s) had a Latin player it was not a regular occurrence. When Boston visited I would talk with Luis Tiant, or with somebody like David Concepción of the Big Red Machine when Cincinnati visited the Giants at Candlestick Park.

It would be me and maybe another guy looking to do an interview with a Spanish speaking ballplayer. When Dodgers visited San Francisco, they always had Tommy Lasorda (first as coach then Manager) who would give me five good minutes of audio for an interview in Spanish (he played (p) in Cuba in the 1950’s in the Cuban Professional Winter Leagues). Tommy is not in very good health these days. I recently spoke with him briefly inside the Dodgers dressing room at Angel Stadium, Anaheim, during the Freeway Series.

Today, all you have to do is walk into any Major League Baseball dressing room and Spanish will be spoken by a bunch of players. Look at the Houston Astros, Springer, Beltran, Correa, Altuve, Gurriel or the Chicago White Sox, Abreu, Cabrera, Garcia, Narvaez, Sánchez. Infante, Quintana, Rodon.

This is at any Major League Baseball park in the American and National Leagues. Would I had ever even dreamed that MLB would send a directive to each team that they should hire an interpreter for Spanish speaking players? If I would have even suggested something like that(back then), my credentials could be in danger or removal.Inside some press boxes, if you spoke in Spanish you had to do it like wispering. And yes, I experienced discrimination, although I am not the type of guy that goes for the big ugly “D” word all the time. I have true stories about that.

Today,Hispanic/Latino players are taking over the game of baseball. While the African American participation in baseball has migrated to the NBA and the NFL,(why, I don’t know, but everybody has an opinion, I would leave that to Professor Harry Edwards who knows about social studies) it has not happened in baseball. MLB is trying, but African-American players are not really coming into the game. While the influx of Latino players keeps coming and coming and coming. Dominican,Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panamá, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Curazao, Virgin Islands.

Not a surprise that Robinson Canó the great veteran second-baseman for the Seattle Mariners was the game Most Valuable Player, he from the Dominican Republic, decided the game with a homerun. Nelson Cruz, (Canó’s compatriot) and buddy with the Mariners took a selfie photo of him with home plate umpire Joe West, who has over 5,000 games as umpire in the bigs. And who took the photo/selfi, while Cruz was coming to the plate? Non other than St Louis Cardinals catcher and future Hall of Famer, Yadier Molina(Puerto Rico).

In Latin America the passion for baseball in the baseball-rich countries is as great as ever. If you watched the game on FOX you could easily see how much the Latino players were enjoying the game. That is healthy for the game to see people that enjoy playing with dedication and passion. Finally, I was not in Miami, I was on vacation this week out of town.

But,Yes, this 88th MLB All Star Game was a Latino Game.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the A’s Spanish radio talent, the Angels Spanish TV talent does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

 

 

 

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