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One on One Interview with the 2021 AL Latino MVP Pitcher of the year, Carlos Rodón

Yesterday we had the opportunity to sit, one on one with Carlos Rodón the winner of the 2021 LatinoMVP Pitcher of the year award. We sat in the dugout and just chilled and talked. The following is part one of the conversation.

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LS: We are here today on the last day of the San Francisco Giants game in New York with the 2021 AL LatinoMVP Pitcher of the year award winner, Carlos Rodón.

First, I want to congratulate you because a lot of kids who might see you on TV, they might not know you but when they see the accent on the back of your jersey, they see that and say, “this guy is Latino.” So, congratulations for promoting the correct spelling of your name and promoting your culture.

When were you growing up was it an issue regarding an accent on your name?

CR: it wasn’t paid attention to very much growing up in North Carolina. I was raised outside of Raleigh in the early 2000’s, but as you know I was born in Miami then moved to Raleigh. North Carolina there it’s kind of the Bible belt, very southern.

LS: It’s a miracle you don’t have a southern drawl.

CR: Laughs, yeah. I know my name is a hard name to pronounce. They would like to add another n, or e to my name and pronounce it Rodoone, Rodonne so I’m glad there was no accent then because that would have been like throwing a curveball, another curveball regarding my name at those people, but it was still good.

LS: When did you first start noticing, or knowing that your name had an accent?

CR: Well, my mother told me. She said you know our name has an accent. Then as you know how major league baseball and the players union started the program, “Ponle Acento,” putting accents on names. My mother said, “hey, there is an accent over the second “O” in our name.”  I didn’t even know that, so I said you know what, I want to put it on. I’m Hispanic, I’m Cuban, Cuban American that’s part of my heritage and as you know being Latino knowing where you came from it’s a big thing, very proud, very proud thing so my mother said, yeah, you’re going to put that over your name, that’s our last name that’s when I did it.

LS: As a Puerto Rican activist who’s about to be 70 and I’ve been fighting all my life in this country to get respect and recognition of our culture, I want you to do me a favor. When you go back home thank your mother for me and tell her that we’re very proud of her because we were the ones that were raising the issue to Major League Baseball long ago about not having accents so the fact that they finally did it was a happy occasion for our community so please tell your mother that we’re very happy for mothers like her.

CR: (Laughing) I will. I will.

LS: When we met in spring training, we told you that you were on the ballot. We also explained the history of the award. So now that you know that you won this award, that you are recognized as being the best Latino American League pitcher for the 2021 season, how do you feel now knowing you won this prestigious award?

Carlos Rodón & I having fun with this interview. (Photo courtesy: Hector Algarroba)

CR: Unfortunately, not knowing about this award which is kind of sad. But I’m glad that it came to light that you’ve told me about it. I’m proud I’m happy I’m very proud to represent my Heritage, my culture. Born in the United States, my dad being from Cuba and coming to this country which has given us a great opportunity. I don’t think I’ve ever would have gotten this opportunity if I would not be here in this country. That Cuban heritage that we have that’s who we are and I’m glad that this country never took that away from us, (he paused for a while and stated), I don’t know where I am going with this. (We both broke out in laughter!!!).

LS: Let me try and guide you a bit. If the opportunity came in a future World Baseball Classic game and they gave you the choice to play for Cuba and the United States. What would you do, who would you choose? That happened to Mike Piazza. He played for his country of ancestry, Italy and I don’t even know if he ever lived, or visited Italy?

CR: Laughing, I’ve been to Cuba.

LS: So, if the opportunity ever comes up and you were to be asked that you could play for Cuba and, or the United States like some Puerto Ricans and some other players can play for either country, what would you do?

CR: I don’t know? I really don’t know that’s a hard question. I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to play for Cuba. But it will be almost like a coin flip. I could play for one or the other.  I mean I was born in United States, but my heritage is Cuban, so I don’t even know how to answer that one. I don’t mind playing for the team (Cuba). (Laughing he states) I feel the Cuban team might have an advantage because they got some good players.

We got off subject and started talking about similar examples like that of African American track star who does not speak that much Spanish, Yasmine Camacho Quinn. A top world class runner who decided to represent her mother’s birthplace, Puerto Rico and won the Gold Medal. While raising the Puerto Rican flag she did not know the words of the Puerto Rican national anthem, but she was proud to represent and win for Puerto Rico.

We also talked about the developing Latino pride that is rising throughout the country. We agreed that though the Latino community might not be a united homogenous community because we come from many Latin American countries, there is a growing sense of pride to raise our flags and promote our Latino heritage. We both agreed that we see this movement of Latino pride and that is something positive.

LS: So, this is also happening to you where you want to learn more Spanish.

CR: Laughing, yes, I need to learn more Spanish.

LS: OK so let’s talk about your award. Have you ever been awarded anything at your home stadium in front of the crowd, in front of your fans?

CR: No

LS:

Fun interview with Carlos. (Photo Hector Algarroba)

So, this would be a first? We are presently communicating with the Giants to be able to present you the award in an on-field ceremony during Hispanic Heritage month. We have been told that the Giants have an event for Hispanic Heritage month call Fiesta Gigante, and I believe on that day you guys are playing the Dodgers so that would be an awesome day if we can try to get that day to give you the award.

CR: There is a large Latino community. I think that would be super neat that would be awesome. I just hope I don’t have to speak Spanish.

(Again, we both break out laughing.)

LS: No, we are bi-lingual, but English is our dominant language.

We want to congratulate you again and thank you for the support and pride that you’ve given to Latino Sports and to this award.

CR: I also want to say, thank you. I also want to say that the other pitchers that were on your ballot were great pitchers as well. It’s so cool to know that we have so many Latinos that are superstars that have that swagger. You can see that they are making the game exciting you can see they’re taking over.

LS: I call it baseball with Sofrito and perhaps it’s no longer baseball and apple pie, but baseball and mango. We add that flavor to baseball.

CR: I love mango!

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