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When an award is giving more than a trophy – Ask JRod

Julio Pabón unveils 2022 AL LatinoMVP Rookie award to J-Rod on Saturday at Citi Field - Image Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

SOUTH BRONX, NY – Yesterday our Latino Sports team editor, Robert Rizzo; exclusive LatinoMVP award artist, James Fiorentino; our recent contributing artist Maz Adams and myself were present at the Citi-Field visitors’ dugout waiting to award one of the most exciting and rising young Latino players, Julio Rodríguez (AKA JRod) his 2022 A.L. LatinoMVP Rookie of the Year award.

Julio Rodríguez presented 2022 AL LatinoMVP Rookie Award by Latino Sports founder Julio Pabón, along with our exclusive LatinoMVP artists James Fiorentino – Image Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

None of us knew what to expect as we have learned from giving out this award for the last thirty-three (33), years, we have learned to expect the unexpected. I had the opportunity to briefly speak to Julio the day before just to re-introduce myself to him as we had met in last year’s 2022 All Star game in Los Angeles when I briefly told hem about our prestigious award. I asked him his thoughts on possibly winning one. He then said that winning our award would be like winning in a World Series. That was a major statement from one of the leagues newest rookies. Well, his thoughts came to fruition yesterday, he has not yet won a World Series, but won a LatinoMVP award.

Julio was literally eye struct when he saw and received his awards. The first was a drawing from Maz, we told him that was a home run, he smiled and impressed as he admired the artwork. We then told him the next one from James was a grand slam. When he saw it his reaction and facial expression said it all. He exclaimed, “WOW, WOW, (rubbing his chin), that looks real.” That is the feeling brought out every time we award a Latino player. It does not matter how much money they are making, how much publicity they are getting to make them and their names super popular. They love getting one of our awards that was generated from the pain of the Latino community being overlooked and many times ignored. It’s evident that our award is appreciated by every player that receives one, especially when it is one that they will display in their homes for generations.

What was equally surprising was Julio’s deep appreciation for art. So much so that he felt so comfortable being surrounded by our team and many other press members that were not hounding him with the same questions they all ask, but by sharing this important moment in his career. He was with us for approximately ten (10) minutes just chatting and expressing his inner appreciation for art. He asked James if he gives classes. At first, we did not understand, but then he made himself clear. He told us as he touched his chest, “I have a desire to want to learn to draw. I believe I would like to express myself through art.” We were surprised by this young superstar speaking to us from his heart, as comfortable as if he was just chilling with his Home Boy’s.

Julio Pabón and Julio Rodríguez with Latino Sports T-Shirt – Image Credit: Latino Sports

We told Julio that Latino Sports is more than a boutique media company. We told him that our goal is to help promote athletes like him to all youth that need to see more positive role models. We have worked and advised players in the past on how to handle the press. We have also done rookie training sessions for the NY Yankees and the NY Mets on understanding the press. On that note, we will arrange for him to get his lessons with James. He loved the idea and said, he would be in touch with us after the season is over.  Julio took my card and said he would reach out to us.

We all left the dugout feeling like superstars knowing that we brought much joy and love to a rising super star who does not have the opportunity to often express their inner selves, especially with the press.

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