This post is also available in: Spanish
By: Zuiry Gaytan
“Harrisburg Senators”, the minor league baseball team of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has been known for welcoming Latino players throughout its history. One of them, Vladimir Guerrero, who started his career in this team, is now in the Hall of Fame!
In recognition of the efforts of young Latino athletes, who day after day struggle to achieve their goals, Latino Connection Magazine (LCM) had the privilege of interviewing some of our most talented baseball players. We will refer to Raudy Read, Ronald Peña, Osvaldo Abreu and Michael Tejera, who welcomed us with great smiles and enthusiasm in their home, the Harrisburg Senators stadium, in City Island. The talk passed placidly in the light of a promising sky.
LCM: What did you dream to be when you all were children?
Raudy, Ronald and Osvaldo: My dream was always to play baseball and reach the big leagues (they answered in unison).
Michael: Baseball has always been a passion of mine, since I was a kid. I was born in Cuba, under a regime where, unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to play professional baseball. But I made the decision to come to this country at an early age, and the doors opened for me. With discipline, dedication and work, I had the opportunity to achieve the dream of playing in the big leagues.
LCM: What was your inspiration for becoming a baseball player?
Raudy: To be honest, it was the love I felt for this sport since I was little, but also money was a motivation, to be able to help my family.
Ronald: My dad, who played this sport for many years, was my inspiration. When I was a kid, I always went to the stadium to watch him play, and that inspired me to want to play too, to be like him.
Osvaldo: My family. My dad and my brother played, they were my inspiration.
Michael: From an early age, 6 or 7 years old, we played in the neighborhood, and when one of my friends’ dad saw me play baseball, he suggested going to a boarding school where they practice baseball. I told my dad that I liked that sport, and that’s how I started going to baseball school in Cuba. That’s how it all began.
LCM: What does family mean to you?
All: (With an immediate response, some and others were complementary when answering). Family is ALL. They support us and motivate us to give our best on the field, in every game. They are always present, in good times and in bad, giving us words of encouragement, and instructing us. Family is sacred!
LCM: Where did your first opportunity to get to practice this sport come from?
Raudy: In the Dominican Republic. Then I signed a contract with the national leagues.
Ronald: In the small leagues, here in the United States, when I was 4 years old.
Osvaldo: At age 5 I started playing in the small leagues, in the Dominican Republic.
Michael: I was born and raised in Cuba. My first opportunity was in Cuba when I started playing baseball at age 12, and then I had the opportunity to play with the national team of Cuba, when I was 17 years old. That’s how I came to this country.
LCM: In the world of baseball, who is the person you most admire?
Raudy: All the players in the big leagues, for all the effort involved in getting there, giving the best of themselves. Of course, you always have a favorite player, and for me it has always been Mani Ramirez.
Roland: My dad, because I always saw him play as a pitcher. When I was a kid, I wanted to do what he did. I also admire Pedro Martinez, a professional player in the Hall of Fame.
Michael: There are many people that I admire or that have been a positive influence in my career. My father, from a very young age, instilled in me the value of discipline and training. I had coaches throughout my career, from my beginnings, and if I start to mention names, there would be many. So I do not think it’s fair to just mention one, but they’ve all been of great importance to my training.
LCM: Until now, what obstacles have you faced in your career?
Raudy: A different culture and language. In addition to a social life of women, drinks and vices. They have been very strong obstacles to overcome.
Ronald: Getting here has not been easy. This life means being away from home all the time, in addition to injuries. In 2014, I had an operation on my shoulder, that was a big obstacle, which I had to overcome.
Osvaldo and Michael: Arriving in a country with different customs and another language. Leaving the family and adapting to a new lifestyle; there are very large adjustments that have to be made. And not only us, but any migrant who comes to this country goes through similar experiences.
LCM: As baseball players, what advice would you give to those young people who, like you, dream of being professional players?
Osvaldo: Discipline. Work hard for what you want, for your dream. Never give up, and always keep moving forward.
Raudy: Those who dream of being successful in life, look for motivation. You should always have something or someone to be grateful for, and always give 100% for that ideal or for that person. Never give up. Never lower your head. Do not go to the street, there you will not find anything good, only delinquency, and instead of winning, you can even lose your life. In contrast, the world of sports, always have opportunities for you to meet many people, and find a new family of colleagues who can always help you. I hope they continue in the sports or studies they have chosen, and that they have the possibilities to help their families.
LCM: In the month of the Hispanic heritage, what message could you send to Hispanics?
Michael: Being a Hispanic immigrant, with a bit of success in this country, I would say that we should keep in mind we must get used to the country, and not the country to us. Many times we come here to try to maintain the same lifestyle that we had in our country, when everything is different here. On the other hand, be disciplined, and always have a dream and a goal to achieve. In this country, the sky’s the limit and everything is possible if you have discipline and if you do things with love.
Roland: Always move on. Never give up and go ahead with the same dream you had before coming. Make a great effort for your family. Do your best! Come on, keep going!
At the end of our talk, our interviewees checked the time and thanked us for the interview, while we wished them the best. They left – they had to be on time to go to the batting area to train. There is no doubt that dreams forge your destiny, but discipline, hard work and the desire to succeed are the way to make our goals a reality.