here’s just something special about Miami.
It’s where we all grew up, but it’s so much more than that. This city is in our hearts. It’s our one true love. And the place we always come back to.
For Jon, Yonder and I, Miami means family, good friends, culture and … baseball.
Each winter we meet up in our hometown and we go to work. We laugh a lot, too, and have fun together. At the end of the day, though, we’re there to put in work and to get better at baseball.
We do it for ourselves, of course, and for the love of the game. But we also do it for the city we call home, this place we each love. We want to be the best. We want to make Miami proud.
The three of us all come from the similar backgrounds. I’ve known Yonder since he was 10. And we’ve both known Manny since he was a young kid coming up. We’re from the same neighborhoods, the same culture, so its just natural for us to stick together.
For me, baseball has always been the thing that picked me up. When I was down, I’d go to the baseball field to try to forget my troubles. I’d get out there on the diamond and almost immediately I’d be happy.
Baseball is king in Miami. It’s so important to everyone, and the competition is unrivaled anywhere in the country. Everyone is passionate about the game here, even at the high school level. High school ball here is almost like the pros. It’s crazy.
We all play on different teams now, but everyone knows we have a special bond. When one of these guys comes to town, my teammates will be like, “Look out … the Miami crew is here.” We’ll pick each other up at the airport! Everybody just knows how it is. Miami guys stick together.
I think one of the things that brings us together is the fact that we all grew up in this unique Latin culture where everyone kind of takes care of one another. Yonder was born in Cuba. Both my parents were born in Cuba. And Manny’s parents are from the Dominican Republic. For us, Miami is like our own little country where these cultures come together.
My dad had to work four jobs to provide for us. On the weekends, my dad, my sister and I used to clean offices as a way to make some additional money. It was a struggle, and something I’ll never forget, but we made it work.
As a kid coming up, I’d see Jon and Yonder out there making their mark, and it gave me something to shoot for. They set the example. I looked up to those guys.
I’m 31 now, and it’s crazy to think that my grandparents came over from Cuba when they were right around my age. I often think about how they uprooted their family back then so that the next generation would have an opportunity. I’m just so thankful.