For decades, Latino baseball players from Spanish-speaking countries – who now make up more than 25 percent of Major League Baseball – wondered why the league didn’t mandate clubs to hire Spanish-language translators. After all, many MLB players from Asia would usually be set up with a personal translator to help them transition to the American game. And if you ask Spanish-speaking players, they’ll tell you the transition is tough.
Well, earlier this year, Major League Baseball and the MLB players’ union negotiated a deal that will require all teams to hire a Spanish-language translator. Several Latino players, including veterans who have already learned English on their own, are breathing a heavy sigh of relief. One such player is Carlos Beltran, the Puerto Rican vet who has played for both the New York Mets and the New York Yankees.
Beltran opened up to the New York Daily News about the difficulties he faced as a young player who didn’t speak English.
Beltran said he couldn’t be his true self.
Credit: Jonathan Daniel / Getty
“When I was coming up through the Royals’ minor-league system, a lot of people thought I was introverted. People said, ‘He’s a good player, but he doesn’t talk to anybody.’ Maybe my teammates were great people, great human beings, but I didn’t get to meet them because of the language barrier.”
He underscored how the language barrier led to anxiety about dealing with the media.
Credit: Al Bello / Getty
“If you made a mistake in the game, even before it was over, you would be worrying about having to talk to the media. What am I going to say? How am I going to say it? It was a learning experience.”
Beltran recalled how hard it was to do basic things, like ordering food:
Credit: Leon Halip / Getty
“I would be on line and there were three people in front of me, so I would watch what they were ordering. When it was my turn, if the person in front of me ordered something I liked, I would point and say, ‘Same.’ If they ordered something I didn’t like, I would go to the back of the line and try again. I would sometimes go to the back of the line three or four times.”
Although he’s learned English, Beltran said it was a long time coming.
Credit: Al Bello / Getty
“I look at having a translator as a no-brainer because it will help communication between everybody. Players and coaches, players and players, and players and media. I don’t know why it took so long.”
Read the full story @ New York Daily News.