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placeholder November 22, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA

Giants MVP Edgar Renteria, above, chose his number 16 in honor of the July 16 feast day of the Virgin of Carmel.
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Giants trio shares
immigrant experiences

Though he helped lead the San Francisco Giants to the 2010 baseball World Series championship and earned the Most Valuable Player title, Shortstop Edgar Renteria hasn’t lost his humility.

The athlete asked officials in his native Colombia that instead of a homecoming celebration for him, those resources be directed to aid flood victims in his hometown of Barranquilla.

“I feel that at this moment there are more important things, such as addressing the suffering of many families due to the severe winter who are homeless and without food,” Renteria said in a statement sent to city officials.

“Always be positive,” counsels outfielder Andrés Torres.
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Rentería, centerfielder Andrés Torres and third baseman Pablo Sandoval shared their experience as immigrants in an interview with The Catholic Voice.

Renteria always asked God to watch over and bless him and the Giants. He chose his number, 16, in honor of the July 16 feast day of the Virgin of Carmel, patroness of fishermen and upon whom the Carmelite order is based.

After losing his father at age two, Renteria and his seven brothers faced many challenges. But his family always remained united and baseball was his ally.

“In life there will always be problems and setbacks, but it is important to learn from them and move forward,” Renteria said in an interview before his team won the Series.

When he turned 16 he was drafted by the Florida Marlins and was nominated for Rookie of the Year. His final hit in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series helped the Marlins win that championship.

Dealing with English was a difficult test for Renteria. In addition to learning a new language, he had to adapt to a different way of playing. “When we come here we have to try harder, but when you do things well, you’ll be rewarded,” he said.

Renteria, 35, won’t play for the Giants in 2011. He was paid $500,000 and is now a free agent.

“If you do well here,” he counsels immigrants, “it also does well for your family and your people back home. I am delighted to return to my country and and feel the warmth of the people, their appreciation and pride. It was worth the pain and sacrifice of just working so hard,” he said.

Renteria has not only achieved professional success, but transformed the lives of many children. In Barranquilla, the Team Rentería foundation helps small players adequately prepare to keep up with their idol.

Although a sports lover, Puerto Rican Andrés Torres was running track and field and had never played baseball when he was discovered in 1995.

He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1998.

He had his goals and never stopped working and learning. “I had a hard time getting here, but I persevered,” he said. “Always be positive.”

The humble, 32-year-old thanked God for giving him the light. “I think we have to do things twice and give extra. But Latinos are fighters and we work hard. Success here is not easy, but it is not impossible. Giving 100 percent is part of the game,” he said.

Torres is a family man who speaks lovingly of his wife and son. Referring to his mother made him recall Aguada, his home town. He misses her: “I’m sad I have not seen her so often, but it is part of the work and sacrifice that you have to do,” he said.

Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval
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Venezuelan Pablo Emilio Sandoval, 23, stole the hearts of Giants. In 2009, his first season in the majors, he ended with an excellent batting average ranking him among the top five hitters in the league.

Nicknamed “Kung Fu Panda” because of his physique, exceptional skills and tenderness after the famous bear in the DreamWorks animated film, Sandoval came to this country when he was 17. He came focused on a single target, to excel in America’s favorite sport.

Immigrating to the U.S. has been “a very beautiful and rewarding adventure.” Sandoval acknowledges it has not been an easy process.

He came to Arizona not knowing any English. “I did not know how to order food, and could not communicate. When you do not speak English it all becomes more difficult. It is a barrier you have to overcome,” he said.

The Giants No. 48 notes the importance of “seizing the opportunities offered in life by God and the need to fight tirelessly, not to survive but to excel.”

 
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