Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrián González was born in San Diego, but spent several years of his childhood in Tijuana with his Mexican-born parents. Having that multicultural background gives González an interesting scope in today’s game of baseball. He sat down with ESPN reporter Marly Rivera to talk about bridging the cultural gap in the MLB, as well as the racialized debate surrounding the unwritten rules of baseball.
González spoke on first coming into the league and being an interpreter for minor league colleagues, some who didn’t speak much English. “When I signed, I was already bilingual and spoke both languages. For most Latinos, I was the one who would be there with them, and I would take them to eat and would explain what was on the menu. Those were fun times with them and enabled us to spend more time together,” González said.
He also recalls being a teammate that could bridge the cultural gap in the locker room. “I have the ability to talk to Americans and talk to Latinos; I can go out to dinner with both of them. So, often, I would end up being the one inviting people: ‘Hey, let’s go eat, come with us.’ Even if that person wasn’t able to communicate a lot, communication in baseball is universal,” González said.
With a large portion of the league being of Latin American descent, the language barrier can make it difficult to form friendships across language borders. Players like González, then, are crucial for chemistry in MLB locker rooms.
The first baseman also spoke on the current debate of baseball’s unwritten rules, and the constant policing of Latino players’ excitement for the game. “Those are people who want to control baseball, and the reality is that you don’t need to control it. You have to let it be and allow people to have fun. Obviously, you shouldn’t do anything that offends your opponent, but if you are doing it to have fun yourself and have fun with your team, it’s all good.”
You can read the full interview with González on ESPN.