The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Baseball with Latin flavor

City College freshman outfielder Cristain Bracero slides in to home plate during a Panthers home game at Union Stadium.

In a baseball locker room 3,500 miles from home, Jorge Perez Bonilla laces his cleats. He dons his burgundy and gold uniform, and takes the field with the rest of his Panthers teammates. But for Perez-Bonilla—and the four other Latin American players on the squad—the game is just a little more complicated than simply playing baseball.

Adjusting to college life is something many City College student athletes struggle with. When coupled with an entirely new culture and a new home thousands of miles from where they grew up, it can become even more of a challenge. Jonathan Taraya of Express sat down with five students on the City College baseball team to discuss the problems and perks that come with being international student athletes at City College.

Why did you decide to come here to play baseball?

Eddie Sievers (Puerto Rico): Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to play college ball [in America] or go professional.

What has been the biggest adjustment in moving here?

Cristian Bracero (Puerto Rico): The language and the culture.

Nelson Muniz (Dominican Republic): The way we play baseball. Over here they focus a lot on fundamentals. In my country we focus on our abilities.

What are the biggest differences between here and your home country?

Muniz: You don’t get this crowd we get here in my country. Walk-up songs, great fields—every time we play, we get a locker room. It’s a great experience.

Sievers: The facilities over here are just way better than the ones back home. Here we play in a stadium; back home it’s just basically bleachers and sand.

Perez-Bonilla (Puerto Rico): We play every day. I love this sport and we play every day. We’ve got everything—we got balls and facilities, we got bats, we got the field, good locker rooms, we get showers. At home we have to bring our own balls.

Is it difficult to handle school and baseball?
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Sievers: It is pretty tough to deal with school and baseball at the same time because both of them involve the language, and so it can get pretty stressful.

Muniz: Time management is a huge deal. It’s kind of difficult to manage time with school and baseball, and we have to find ways to excel at both.

Raul Ortiz (Puerto Rico): We go to school, and we go to the [baseball] park, and that’s really it for us.

What has been the most difficult adjustment?

Muniz: We have to adapt to the style of play here. In Puerto Rico we like to play with style, and so we have to adapt to the way they play here. We have to take out some of our seasoning, our spiciness, to look more like an American player. Ortiz: We have to deal with racist people.

What kind of racism have you experienced?

Sievers: When we’re on the field, we speak Spanish, and when the other team hears that, they’ll yell “beaners” or cuss words that they know in Spanish. And they automatically think that we’re Mexican.

Do you miss home?

Sievers: It’s funny, but sometimes you really miss home man. Sometimes you think, “Oh, I want to go home,” because over here we get targeted a lot. The little racial comments and stuff. We can handle it, but after a while you get a little homesick.

What advice would you give to international athletes considering playing in America?

Bracero: Just go. If you’re from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic or that area of the Caribbean, just come play in the United States. There’s so much opportunity, way better opportunities over here. You’ll get better opportunities in school and in baseball. Just better everything.

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