Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cubano convict to Major League beisbol star

It was a little disappointing to see Los Angeles Dodger star Yasiel Puig NOT take the National League’s Rookie of the Year award – it can be argued the team wouldn’t have won squat without him!

But I also have to admit the backstory involving the award’s winner, Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, is intriguing enough to make up for it.

THE 21-YEAR-OLD who finished his first major league season with Miami was named Monday as rookie of the year for his pitching for the last-place ball club. He was definitely the highlight for Marlins fans in 2013 – and could be the key to them rebuilding into something significant in future years!

Fernandez and Puig are ethnic brethren – both exiles of Cuba. But Puig followed the more conventional story of being someone of talent in Cuba who fled to this country specifically to play baseball professionally.

I’m sure Fernandez had similar dreams when he came. But he was still a kid. 16-years-old, to be exact when he finally arrived in the United States.

And for what it’s worth, he had to try four times to get out of Cuba before he successfully made it to the United States. On all of the occasions in which he got caught, he wound up incarcerated in Castro’s jails.

SUCH AN EXPERIENCE could have devastated anyone into submission. But for Fernandez, he kept a comin’ to this country, finally enrolling as a high school student in Tampa at age 16.

That is where professional baseball scouts discovered him, just like many other all-American kids. Playing baseball.

It was intriguing to listen to Fernandez talk to MLB-TV on Monday about his experience, saying that making it to this country for a chance at a better life was the ultimate reward.

It seems that at least one ballplayer has his priorities in place.

AND, FOR WHAT it's worth, Puig came in second in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Which makes me wonder how much more interesting beisbol in this country will be due to the continued influx of Latin American talent on U.S. playing fields.

  -30-

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