Scorching Heat to Cold Downpours: Venezuelan Baseball Player’s Path to Clark

This story was originally published in “Mundo Clark” and has been translated by the original reporter, Marvin Peña, for the Independent. Sports Editor Michael Larsen-Teeters also contributed to this story.

The stagnant heat and a poorly laid field.

A two hour long bus ride precedes and follows three hours of baseball practice. All for the love and pride of a national tradition: Baseball.

For most Venezuelan kids, like Reinaldo Gonzalez, being a baseball player is a dream that stays with them until they are teenagers. Félix Hernández, Miguel Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval are well known Venezuelan-born Major League Baseball players.

Gonzalez, a 20-year-old Clark baseball player, began playing in his hometown Maracaibo when he was just 5 years old. However, the political turmoil in Venezuela caused his father to request his relocation to the U.S. through political asylum. The relocation process took two years.

Gonzalez played for Westview High School’s baseball team as a junior and was recruited by Clark’s head baseball coach Mark Magdaleno for the shortstop position.

His goal is to have a great performance this season and to be seen by scouts to take him to the next level, Gonzalez said.

The weather and language barriers have been setbacks in that goal, Gonzalez said.  Specifically, the trouble has come from alternating from 90 degree weather year round to mild weather and playing for Clark’s predominantly English-speaking team.

English-speaking classmate and teammate Charles Clark Jr. helped Gonzalez overcome his language barrier difficulties, Gonzalez said.

Clark called Gonzalez one day to offer his translating skills and any additional help. “We always hangout during practice and he helps me to understand if there is something I don’t get right,” Gonzalez said.

Despite the help from Clark, the weather differences are still an issue, Gonzalez said. “When I was back home I used to practice everyday, but here, due to the rain I can’t practice everyday and that affects my performance,” Gonzalez said.

In only two appearances this season, which began March 2, he hasn’t had any luck in batting. Gonzalez has had zero hits in his seven bat attempts.

Undeterred by this statistic, Gonzalez said he still looks to contribute to the team and go as far as possible this season.

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