Otherwise buried amongst the news of baseball’s futility and the march for nation-wide change, Yasiel Puig reminded us of different times.
7 years ago today, the Dodgers made the call that fans had long been clamoring for. He tore it up in spring training earlier that year (1.328 OPS) — he was tearing it up at Chattanooga for months (.982 OPS) — but he was also a wild card.
The Wild Horse, as the great Vin Scully later dubbed him, had been in America for less than a full calendar year at that time — the perception of a smug prima donna making it’s way up the front office email chain. He didn’t listen, he was late, he ignored signs.
He was young and that was all he knew.
But, as they say, the ball don’t lie.
On June 3, 2013, the Wild Horse was let out of his stable.
Two hits and one double play on defense to end the game later, the next six years for Dodgers fans would be filled with the excitement and the ups and downs of the great Yasiel Puig.
But this article comes with something much more important that another look back times when baseball was happening. It comes with a message of hope and unity from the man.
The usually loud but somehow equally reserved Puig took to Instagram in that post above with his story…
Today, as I look back on that memory, and take account of everything that I have lived through since then, I want to speak up for the very first time about my personal experiences as a man of color.
I came from a country where I could not speak up, we could not express our thoughts and protests were and are a punishable act.
I want my black brothers and sisters to know that although I have had the privilege of playing on a national stage, that privilege has not prevented me from feeling the sting of being an Afro-Latino man. My privilege has not afforded me the total escape of others having preconceived notions about me based on the color of my skin.
Today, 7 years later, now a proud American Citizen, I will raise my voice and demand the necessary change. It is time that everyone is treated with the respect that all human beings deserve. Black, brown, yellow or white – our hearts are what matter. Let’s keep taking these steps forward and give to our children the beautiful future that they deserve.
I leave that message in its entirety on this post. A powerful message.
Signed out of Cuba by way of Mexico as 21-year-old, Puig entered American society already set to live the American dream. He was rich — the Dodgers signed him to a 7-year, $42M. That kind of money usually comes with privilege. But as he said in his own words above, it didn’t prevent him from feeling the sting of being an Afro-Latino in this country.
Now as the country fights for change to not be in thoughts and prayers but in action, we ask for something that sounds simple when you say it:
Don’t let what Jackie, Campy, and Newk fought for be in vain. Don’t let the killing of George Floyd be swept away by the next news cycle. Civil and equal rights should not come with an asterisk and accompanying stipulations.
Please, let’s fix this problem.