SOUTH BRONX, NY — Yesterday I went to Yankee Stadium to do a special delivery. We had promised a special shirt to some of the Padres and Yankee players who had won the prestigious LatinoMVP award. The shirt is a special commemorative gift to the players who had won or were on the ballot of the 2022 LatinoMVP awards. It has taken a bit longer to print the shirts due to the special material we wanted for these first ever player shirts. Every player that was shown the shirt during Spring Training wanted one and we promised to give them one once they were produced.
The fact that the Padres are not returning to New York to play again forced us and the printer to just print a few to give to three Padres players, Fernando Tatis Jr. the 2020 NL LatinoMVP winner, Juan Soto the NL 2021 winner and Manny Machado the 2022 winner.
We can always get the Yankee players, 2022 AL LatinoMVP pitcher, Nestor Cortes, and Carlos Rodón the 2021 AL LatinoMVP Pitcher of the Year.
I caught up with Fernando in the visitors’ clubhouse and re-introduced myself as unfortunately, we were not able to meet in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic when he was presented the award during September’s Hispanic Heritage Month in front of his home crowd.
I reminded Fernando that the last time I had seen him was as a child when his father Fernando Tatis Sr. had brought him to the stadium as he sometimes did. Fernando Tatis Sr. was a good friend and Latino Sports had a very good relationship with him.
Tatis Jr. became quite relaxed after knowing that I was not a regular reporter about to ask him many of the typical questions that he is used to hearing since his return from suspension.
I reminded him that I live walking distance from Yankee Stadium and that not all Bronxites are against him as he might believe from his reception from the right fields and Bleacher Creatures in the stadium. He laughed and shook his head in appreciation. In fact, I told him that his gestures toward them after hitting his home run on Friday was enjoyed by many in my hood.
Many told me that though they were Yankee fans they liked that Tatis Jr. was not afraid to interact with the fans that were jeering him.
I asked him about that, and he said, “I was having fun. They were booing and screaming at me, so after the home run, I wanted to let them know they could scream now.” He again repeated that he was having fun. I told him that though many might not understand those actions on his part, I explained that many do and welcomed them because it adds a different and exciting momentum to a game that needs more excitement. He laughed.
We picked up the conversation again later after he had breakfast outside near the dugout. I asked him how he felt that day in 2020 when he received the award, a painting, not a plaque, or trophy that he had probably been receiving since he was a child. He smiled and stated that he really enjoyed receiving that award. I asked him where was it hanging, and he said it was on display in his parents’ house as he is presently building his own home.
I asked about his thoughts on an award that is specifically for Latino baseball players. He believed that it was a good idea. He stated how there are many Latinos playing and that an award for them was good because “Latinos bring a lot of flavor to the game.”
We finished the interview by reminding him how the award was the oldest and most prestigious award given to Latino players and that players like Albert Pujols had won it a record nine times. I told him that he was young enough to win it again, perhaps a few more times.
He smiled and said: “Just to get an award that many other great Latino players like Pujols had also won was a privilege.”
I informed him that several are referring to the award as the “Latino Grammy in baseball” and told him he can thus brag about winning a Grammy for baseball, he laughed.
I ended the award interview by reminding him to give my regards to his father and advised him on continuing to have fun playing, but to be careful on his decisions outside the game. He thanked me and departed.
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