I was about 4 when I fell in love with the Dodgers. My Dad loved watching baseball and that meant, I did too. I was the Son he never had. He was the Dad I was meant to have. Fernando Valenzuela showed up to the scene soon after. And that rocked my world. He was from the same part of Mexico our people are from and well, for the first US born kid of our family, having that connection was really powerful. Being ni de aqui, ni de alla sucks when you haven’t mastered Spanish at 4 and like the kids they were, my older cousins never let me forget that I couldn’t speak Spanish well. But somehow I forgave them and understood them because being a Mexican immigrant is hard. I saw them in him. And EL TORO became Chicano goals incarnate. He represented so much to me. And I totally fought through my shyness when he came to Middleton Street Elementary in Huntington Park with his message of hope and told hundreds of Mexican-American kids to stay in school. His message of hope and belief in education clearly left an impact on my heart.
Last night was one of my lifelong dreams come true: I was at the World Series! I’m thrilled that I could experience it with my fam bam. Pure Joy.
Tonight, I’m watching the game from home and you best believe that I’ll be lighting the Veladoras! And I’ll be thinking about Fernando Valenzuela, Sonora, my family’s journey, immigrants, the spirit of Los Angeles and the commitment to stay in school. Staying in school was one of the best things I’ve ever done. And I know that Fernando’s message of staying committed to education is something that carried me to finish school when it got hard. And it got hard often. I wish I could show him my masters degree from UCLA and thank him for inspiring me and thousands of other Chicanos over 30 years ago! We need more athlete-leaders talking and advocating for education now. Baseball is a sport with many Latino athletes; we need them to inspire Brown kids today.
Even then, Fernando was setting a standard off the field and we didn’t even know it. Who will step up for this generation?
Let’s plan for that after we win the World Series!
Vivan Los Doyers!
Alma V. Marquez
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