Latin SF Giants players bond with community

Former San Francisco Giants baseball player Tito Fuentes, right, hugs Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria, center, as teammate Juan Uribe, left, looks on during a rally at City Hall celebrating their World Series victory, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
November 3, 2010 7:13:43 PM PDT
The Giants have had a long history of going south of the border to recruit good players. From Orlando Cepeda to World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, there is a strong connection the team and the fans have with Latin players.

In San Francisco's Mission District, fans proved their love for their "Gigantes" is big. At the always popular La Taqueria Restaurant, huddled and hungry people wore the team's colors with pride.

"It is pride, Latin pride, showing that we are growing up, growing up as a community," baseball fan Ernesto Gonzalez said.

Some of the first players recruited from Latin America by the Giants were Orlando Cepeda from Puerto Rico and Felipe Alou from the Dominican Republic. A few years later Alou's brothers Matty and Jesus made it to San Francisco and played for the Giants.

In 1960, Giants fans were amazed with Juan Marichal and his high leg kick. Playing in the major leagues was always his dream, despite his mother's plea to stay in school.

"You have to prepare yourself for the future, you have to go to school, you have to get a good education I would tell her, 'mother, I am going to be a baseball player,'" he said.

The Bay Area has had a strong Latino presence and those players from Spanish-speaking countries say this community has always made them feel at home.

Today four are from the Dominican Republic, three from Puerto Rico, one from Venezuela and the MVP Edgar Renteria from Colombia. They are role models for all young people and a source of pride for those whose countries are so far away.

"I am so happy for Renteria, for Colombia, for my family, for everybody," baseball fan Jorge Sanchez said.

Today fans felt like giants among these "Gigantes."


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