MEXICO CITY — With this weekend’s two games between the Giants and Padres in Mexico City — the first Major League Baseball games in history to be played in the Federal District — MLB has now played its schedule six times in the regular season on Mexican soil and nine in total in Latin America.
For the Latin American players in particular, on the San Francisco and San Diego teams, bringing the best baseball to Latin America is a special responsibility.
“It means a lot to us as Latin Americans,” Padres Dominican outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. said of the series, which the San Diego team swept in two games. “It’s so nice to be able to play in front of our people, the people who represent us, our culture.”
In the Padres, Dominican influence is seen with Tátis Jr., Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado and Juan Jose Soto. On the Giants side, there was a strong Venezuelan flavor with Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada.
“It’s important that the Latino fans, who are very good fans, have the opportunity to watch a live game or the players they follow,” said veteran Flores. “It feels like home, right? You know how the Latino fans are at the games. They feel themselves at the game.”
The Padres get a taste of the Mexican atmosphere with visits to lucha libre events, Rey Mysterio maskspiñatas in the clubhouse and hats to celebrate the many home runs.
“The experience was amazing,” said Cruz, who was part of the Dominican Republic game in Santo Domingo during the 2020 preseason between the Tigers and the Twins. “The fans, what we were able to experience as players here, will be unforgettable. It’s all been for the good of the game, I think, bringing the sport we love to Latin America, in this case Mexico. We encourage young people to play it and in this way the game continues to expand.”
In addition to what was done at Alfredo Harp Helú, home of the Diablos Rojos del México of the Mexican Baseball League, the Giants and Padres have both had visits and clinics with minor league organizations in Mexico City, including the Play Ball program. MLB.
“(It was important) to bring the game to these kids who might not get to see us in the States playing it,” Tatis Jr. said of it. “To be here playing against them, I think, is not just a dream for us, but for all the kids and all the fans.”
It remains to be seen where and when it will take place again in Mexico or in Latin America in general. But the success of this Mexico City series and the success of previous years bodes well for this type of event.
“For my part, as a Latino, I feel closer to where I am. The fans treated us incredibly,” Estrada said. “I found everything very excellent.
“I think it’s a very important step for Latinos. We hope that in the future it will happen in countries like Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Colombia. I think it’s a very important event for the Latin fans. We really enjoyed ourselves. We are very grateful to the Mexican fans, the treatment they give us every day. I think that’s what we’ll take away.”
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