With two games held this weekend between the Giants and Padres in Mexico City — the first Major League Baseball games in history to be held in the Federal District — MLB has now shifted its regular season schedule to Mexican soil six times. played and a total of nine in Latin America.
For Latin American players in particular, on both the San Francisco and San Diego teams, bringing the best baseball to Latin America represents a special responsibility.
“It means a lot to us as Latin Americans,” Padres Dominican outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. said of the series, won in two games by the San Diego team. “It’s great to be able to play in front of our people, people who represent us, our culture.”
In the Padres, the Dominican influence was seen with Tatis Jr., Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado, and Juan José Soto. On the Giants’ side, there was a strong Venezuelan flavor with Wilmer Flores and Thiaro Estrada.
“It’s important that Latino fans, who are great fans, have the opportunity to see a live game, or the players they follow,” veteran Flores said. “It feels like home, doesn’t it? You know how Latino fans are at the game. They feel at the game.”
The Padres got a taste of the Mexican atmosphere with trips to Lucha Libre events, Mystery King MaskPinata in the clubhouse, and hats to celebrate the many home runs.
“Lovely. The experience has been amazing,” said Cruz, who was part of the Dominican Republic game in Santo Domingo during the 2020 preseason between the Tigers and Twins. “Fans, what we can experience here as players is going to be unforgettable. It’s all done for the good of the sport, I believe, bringing the sport we love to Latin America, in this case to Mexico. We encourage the youth to practice it and thus the expansion of the sport continues.
In addition to what was done at Alfredo Harp Helu, the home of the Diablos Rojos del México in the Mexican Baseball League, both the Giants and Padres held visits and clinics with minor league organizations in Mexico City, including the Play Ball program. MLB.
“[It was important]to get the game out to kids who might not get to see us play it in the United States,” Tatis Jr. said of it. “To play against them here, I think it’s a dream not just for us, but for all the kids and all the fans.”
It remains to be seen where and when it will be played again in Mexico or Latin America in the general sense. But the success of this Mexico City Series and those of previous years indicate a promising future for this type of event.
“For my part as Latino, I feel close to where I belong. The fans treated us unbelievably,” Estrada said. “I felt awesome about everything.
“I think it’s a very important step forward for Latinos. We hope that in the future it can happen in countries like Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. I think for Latino fans It’s a very important event for us. We enjoyed ourselves. We are very thankful to the Mexican fans, for the treatment they gave us every day. I think that’s what we’re going to take.”