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Thome Wins Roberto Clemente Award Expos Could Make Stops In Portland, Puerto Rico It Takes A World To Field A Giants Team
Thome Wins Roberto Clemente Award
October 22, 2002
CLEVELAND (AP) - Indians first baseman Jim Thome has won the 2002 Roberto Clemente Award, major league baseball announced Tuesday.
The award is given each year to the player who combines outstanding playing ability with work in the community.
"This is a tremendous honor, to be considered in the same class as Roberto Clemente," Thome said.
Thome is the second Indian to win the award. Andre Thornton won it in 1979.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was to present the award Tuesday night during the third game of the World Series in San Francisco.
John Hancock, which sponsors the award, will donate $30,000 in Thome's name to Roberto Clemente Sports City, a sports and education center in Puerto Rico.
The financial company will also donate $25,000 to the Steve Palermo Chapter of the National Paralysis Center in Leawood, Kan., in the name of Thome's nephew, Brandon Thome.
Brandon, 16, broke his neck while diving into a swimming pool this summer and remains paralyzed from the waist down. Thome paid for all the upgrades to Brandon's house to make it handicap accessible, Indians spokesman Bart Swain said.
The first baseman, a free agent, has spent his entire 13-career with the Indians, who are about to begin negotiations with him on a new contract. With 52 home runs this season, Thome is the club's career home run leader.
Thome's community work includes serving as honorary co-chairman of the United Way Softball Slam, which raised almost $200,000, and holding charity events at the children's hospital in his hometown of Peoria, Ill., over the past six years.
For the past five years, he and his wife Andrea have dressed up and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and delivered toys to youth groups that serve disadvantaged kids.
Arizona pitcher Curt Schilling received the 2001 Roberto Clemente Award.
The award began in 1971 and was later renamed for Clemente, who died in a plane crash while delivering supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. Recipients have to exemplify sportsmanship, community involvement and value to their teams.
Expos Could Make Stops In Portland, Puerto Rico: Goal Is To Attract Fans
October 19, 2002
MONTREAL - Get ready for one more absolutely last farewell season for the Montreal Expos. Or perhaps we should make that the Montreal/San Juan/Portland Expos.
A report in yesterday's edition of the Washington Post cited a source close to Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig as saying that the Expos will likely remain in the city next season but play some of their games in other cities, most probably San Juan, Puerto Rico and Portland.
Claude Delorme, the club's executive vice-president, essentially confirmed that scenario yesterday while saying that he did not want to speculate in the absence of a clear announcement from the commissioner's office.
"If you ask whether there is more of a chance that the team will be back in Montreal, I would say definitely," said Delorme. "It's likely that we will be here -- the question now is just for how many games."
An Atlanta businessman has announced that he wants to buy the Expos and move them to Puerto Rico permanently. Delorme was part of a committee that traveled to San Juan earlier this month to study the suitability of sites there. The Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers played an exhibition game in Puerto Rico before the 2001 season.
Delorme said the sites in Puerto Rico and Portland are the equivalent of large minor-league stadiums which seat between 20,000 and 25,000 fans.
Delorme said that the attraction for baseball is that the team could draw more support with some games in those cities next year. "From our point of view, it might enable us to be more competitive in terms of salaries.
""If this goes through, there would be a few games played in one or two other cities."
It's Showtime! / It Takes A World To Field A Giants Team
October 19, 2002
When Giants manager Dusty Baker needs to give instructions to his back-up center fielder in the midst of a game, he punches four numbers on the phone in the dugout. It rings in the video room of the Giants clubhouse.
Katsunori Kojina, known to all as KK, picks up the phone. Then he flies out the door, down the stairs, past the indoor batting cage and up the 10 or so steps to the far corner of the dugout. There, he listens to Baker's instructions then quickly translates them to Tsuyoshi Shinjo in Japanese.
It's the baseball equivalent of a shopkeeper in Chinatown or the Mission summoning her daughter from a back room to translate a customer's request. In other words, it is a dance played out all over San Francisco every day, the bridging of language and the braiding of cultures in such a way that they intersect but remain distinct.
That's what you'll find in the Giants clubhouse.
The National League Champion Giants hail from seven countries and three continents, which is not unusual in baseball today. But because San Francisco is such a melting pot, the multicultural Giants reflect their city more closely than most teams.
Before and after games, salsa often thrums through the clubhouse speakers as Giants players in the so-called "Latin Quarter" of the room move to the music as they dress by their lockers. The Latin Quarter takes up the far right side of the clubhouse and comprises the lockers of Livan Hernandez from Cuba, Benito Santiago from Puerto Rico, Ramon Martinez, Pedro Feliz and Manny Aybar from the Dominican Republic, Marvin Bernard from Nicaragua and Yorvit Torrealba from Venezuela. A few lockers away is Felix Rodriguez from the Dominican Republic.
PUTTING ON THE FEED BAG
On a nearby table, Bernard sometimes spreads out carne asada, rice and beans and plantains from Las Tinajas, the Nicaraguan restaurant on Mission Street that has been a hub for Latin ballplayers for years.
"We're always trying to stuff Latin food into Shinjo," Bernard says. "We don't think he eats enough."
It is no coincidence that Shinjo's locker is next to the Latin Quarter. The Latin players took him under their wing when he arrived last spring from the New York Mets. "They all share of feeling of being foreigners," says KK, Shinjo's interpreter and close friend.
It was KK who carried a rice cooker to road games early in the season so Shinjo's wife could make rice balls for some carbo- loading before games. Language is still a barrier for Shinjo, though most of the baseball lingo is the same in English and Japanese. Shinjo apparently understands more English and Spanish than he can speak, though he has mastered greetings and essential words. And he can swear effectively in both languages ("men's words," as KK politely puts it). Shinjo knows he can crack up his teammates with an exuberant "Wassup, mother--!"
Giants outfielder Reggie Sanders has his own theory about why Shinjo hooked up with the Latin players. "They have a lot more fun than the American players," he said.
At a game this season in Chicago, center field fans tossed quarters and other objects at Benard, chanting "Mar-vin sucks! Mar- vin sucks!" When Benard complained about the flying objects to the umpire, the taunting grew louder. After the game, the team bus was quiet as it pulled away from Wrigley Field. Then from the back row, Shinjo began to chant. "Ma-vin sucks! Ma-vin sucks!" Everyone, including Benard, broke out laughing.
But some cultural differences still pop up. After the playoff victory in Atlanta this month, the Latin players led the clubhouse celebration with Hernandez showing Baker some hip-swiveling moves and Aybar dancing with a bottle of champagne in his back pocket. Shinjo, as outgoing and fun-loving as he is, ducked into the laundry room and drank a few beers with KK. This wasn't what he was accustomed to. In Japan, teams celebrate at the hotel.
The Giants front office has had to adjust to the growing number of foreign players and fans. The seven Japanese beat writers sent to track Shinjo's every move this season immediately doubled the size of the Giants' traveling press corps and required that the team hire a media relations coordinator who speaks Japanese.
Another coordinator, from Colombia, has been handling all the Spanish-speaking media for 10 years. The team has a special phone line for the 12 Spanish-language newspapers in the Bay Area that delivers a daily update on Giants news. There is a phone line just for Spanish-speaking fans, too (972-2454).
OF ONE BLOOD
Though they come from five different countries, the Latin players on the Giants feel a fierce sense of solidarity. "We are different countries but one blood," Hernandez said.
Said Bernard, "We all come from the same hole. We come from nothing. When we get to the big leagues, we don't forget where we came from. All we have is each other."
In the community relations department, a Mexican American woman connects the Latin players to health fairs and school events and baseball clinics for the city's Spanish-speaking community. Santiago read aloud "Clifford the Big Red Dog" at a neighborhood center in the Mission. He asked the children questions about the story and had them answer in both Spanish and English, emphasizing the importance of speaking both languages well.
"Doing something for the Latin community in San Francisco is very important for the Latin players," Hernandez said.
Manager Dusty Baker doesn't speak much Japanese, but he is fluent in Spanish. "On my staff I've got coaches who are Cuban, Polish, French and three black guys," Baker said. "If a player can't find somebody to talk to, he's in trouble."
And if a fan can't find a player to root for, he or she isn't looking hard enough.