Sandy Alomar, Sr., a 14-year veteran of Major League Baseball and father of Sandy and Roberto Alomar, who each had their own storied careers in the majors, was the guest speaker at the Eighth annual Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Awards and Scholarship Dinner, held at the Vauxhall Community Centre.
Alomar said he was deeply impressed by the school and programming when he had a chance to tour the school.
“The way they handle it here is really something great,” he said. “This community has done so much for the younger people and I really appreciate that.
“This is what people in this world need,” he added. “To stay together and realize that if we are a unit, we can become better.”
Alomar was born in Salinas, Puero Rico. He would go on to play 14 seasons of professional baseball, playing with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, California Angels, New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers. He was widely regarded as one of the best defensive infielders in baseball. After his playing career was over, he coached for the Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, and San Diego Padres, where he had a chance to coach both his sons.
“I was born in 1943, and I see some people here who are my age,” he joked to the crowd. “Thank you for some of these people being a little bit older than me.”
He then spoke about his childhood, and his days growing up poor in Puerto Rico and helping his father in the sugarcane fields. He said as a boy he was very shy, and by watching other players he learned a lot about the game of baseball.
“I’m the last one of nine,” he said, referencing the size of his family. “That’s why I’m so small. All my other brothers are tall. My mother and dad, they were really tiny.”
The ideas of sacrifice and determination as vehicles for success were something Alomar kept coming back to as he spoke.
“The sacrifices we make today are the benefits we will get tomorrow,” he said. “Nothing comes easy. You have to work for it. Size really doesn’t matter if you have faith in yourself and you know you can do it,” he added. “If you sacrifice, and you put the effort in, you will become what you feel it is you should become.”
He pointed to his time in the American minor leagues as a black Puerto Rican in the days where non-white players were often shunned by the baseball community. He said he wouldn’t allow himself to be distracted by anything which would detract from his development as a player, a bit of advice he wished to pass on to VAB players in attendance.
“I had come for baseball,” he said. “I didn’t come here for anything else.”
He also spoke on the importance of mental and physical preparation, and staying focused on your goals. He said it’s an issue with the game of baseball today, when young players are called up before they are ready to handle it.
“When you go in to the big leagues, you don’t want to go there for the cup of coffee, he said. “You want to go there to stay. Prepare yourself mentally and physically, so when you get there, you don’t have to look back.”
“A cup of coffee tastes good up there, in the big leagues, but in the minor leagues it tastes bitter,” he added. “You don’t want to come down.”
Family is another important facet of having a successful life, according to Alomar.
“The only friends you actually have are your mom and dad,” he said. “They are the only ones who are always going to be there for you. When you have problems, you always call mom, or you always call dad.”
Alomar also had some criticism of the game he loves so much, but he tempered that bitter pill with humour.
“The game today has changed,” he said. “The reason is that it has become more like a corporation. They don’t care about the person, they don’t care about stats; they just want to win. That’s why you people pay a lot of money to see a baseball game.”
“If someone’s making a hundred million for ten years, someone has to pay for it,” he joked. “It ain’t gonna be me. I get in free now.”
Alomar then shared some of the advice he passed on to his own sons when they were chasing their dreams. He wanted them to know there are many traits possessed by those who achieve what they want in life, and all of them are interconnected.
“When people have pride, they will surely have a will,” he said. “If you have the will, you will have respect. If you have respect, you should have discipline. And if you have discipline, you will get knowledge. If you get knowledge, you will get awareness. If you get awareness, Then you will anticipate all the things that could happen, or will happen, and you can be prepared.”