Our “C” word this month is CONFIDENCE. The word can mean many things, but it boils down to this in the CYITML definition: Accepts constructive criticism; will try something new; positive attitude; views self as a winner. Keeping in mind the idea of trying something new, consider going to a new country for work, having never visited that country, and not knowing how to speak the language.
In the game of baseball, so many Latin American players come to the U.S to pursue a career. This game gives them hope that they can make a difference in their family and a lot of times give them a better life. In most cases the game of baseball isn’t their biggest challenge. Learning English is one of the hardest languages to learn. With so much slang involved it is hard to grasp and many players tend to be shy when speaking it.
One former Royal that exemplified confidence and accepted the challenge of learning a new language in a new country was closer Kelvin Herrera.
Herrera came to the States when he was just 17. He had an image of the U.S in mind but was surprised when he arrived. In an interview with “The Athletic,” he tells the story of arriving in Surprise, Arizona. “Where am I?” he wondered. “What is this? This is the U.S?”
Herrera had images of New York City in mind and was stunned when he got to Surprise for an instructional league with the Royals. He was in a new country and had no idea how to communicate.
Throughout Herrera’s tenure with the Royals he had coaches such as Carlos Martinez and Omar Ramirez pushing him to learn the language. At first he was shy like most and didn’t want to speak the language in public just to end up saying something wrong and being humiliated for it. Soon he grew to learn the language and by the end of his time with the Royals he wouldn’t use a translator unlike many Latin American players.
On June 18, following a great start to his career, the Royals traded Herrera to the Washington Nationals. He chose to confront the situation outside the locker room where reporters were standing to hear what he had to say. In a moment of so much uncertainty, he chose to speak to the reports unlike most players who’ve just been traded. He responded to questions in English with conviction and confidence. It showed the fans of Kansas City that he cared about them just as much as they cared about him. He made it a point to speak English and show the emotions that come along with being traded. In a time when a player’s head is spinning with so much uncertainty, Herrera chose the path of telling his story in his second language. The language that he learned with the Royals and gave him confidence not only on the mound, but to carry him through life, too.