Just Good ‘Ol Baseball
You have your football junkies, your basketball maniacs, your soccer obsessionistas (because really, a sport that goes on season through season should really be a crime! Sorry Dad), and then… you have your oh-so-glorious-baseball-fans, the best kind I might add. So with baseball season finally here and with new faces throughout each team, it really makes me wonder, when are we going to stop referring to baseball as the “all-American sport?”
Now I’ve been watching baseball almost as long as Justin Bieber has been alive, and no, he isn’t 12, but long enough to realize that when a player needs an interpreter when granting interviews, he isn’t exactly your “American;” one classic example—Fernando “El Toro” Valenzuela.
On Thursday night, a sea of blue chanted as legendary left-handed pitcher, Fernando Valenzuela, walked onto his old familiar field. It was the same field where he debuted about 31 years ago, and began a new craze. He was a 19-year-old native of Sonora, Mexico, and more than just your typical teenager. He was the newest sensation in Los Angeles in the 80s, Fernandomania is what it was. From coast to coast, they experienced baseball in a new way, the teenager was giving baseball a new look. He wasn’t your typical player, you know the 6’0, fair-skinned, athletic body type; he was quite the absolute contrary, he was chubby and dark-skinned, with long hair. However, despite it all, Valenzuela quickly became a respectable figure in the ballpark and within the Latino community. In about one short year, “El Toro,” helped the Dodgers win the World Series in 1981 after a 16 year slump.
After Valenzuela’s successful acquisition, it’s no surprise why today we continue to see players from outside this “land of the free.” With last names like: Sosa, Ramirez, Ortiz, Guerrero, Morales, Matsui, Suzuki, and Takahashi on the roster, we should really continue to ask ourselves, Is baseball really “all-American?”
Frankly, as a proud Mexicana, I’m glad the MLB is searching for talent from all over the globe, it’s sending a message worldwide that baseball indeed isn’t “all-American,” it’s the sport that your paisano from Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, even Japan can become a part of. It’s the sport where you can watch a mixtures of cultures all come together and just play ball.
Now if only the U.S. government would begin to understand what an impact immigrants have in our beloved “all-American sport…” I guess that should really be left for another blog. But until then, next time when you’re at your favorite ballpark, be it in the West Coast, East Coast or Mid-West or wherever it might be, stop and glance around the stadium and take a careful look at the fans that come together, all from different skin colors, all from a variety of backgrounds, but mainly all with one common interest—baseball. No need to label it “all-American,” just good ‘ol baseball.