Bronx, NY—Wednesday was a festive afternoon for Yankees players in the Bronx. Several hours before the players were due to report for pre-game activities at Yankee Stadium, they were being saluted at two Latino luncheons in the Bronx.
The Yankees superb second sacker Robinson Cano was presented with the 2010 American League LatinoMVP Award. The award was given to Cano by Julio Pabón, the founder and CEO of Latino Sports Ventures, the sponsor of the event at Giovanni’s Restaurant on 150th Street and the Grand Concourse.
The occasion began with meaningful words spoken by a meaningful person Lucky Rivera. The positive words of the invocation were uttered by positive human being. Rivera is the head of Positive Workforce, a program that works to prepare and then get union jobs in construction for minorities and women. In addition to his regular occupation, Rivera is a talented ventriloquist who enjoys entertaining children.
The LatinoMVP Awards recipients are chosen by the votes of the members of the Latino Sports Writers & Broadcasters Association (LSWBA). The awards are bestowed for accomplishments during the 2010 seasons. This is the 22nd annual year of these prestigious baseball honors.
Cano is a two-time winner of the LatinoMVP honors. He earned the AL Rookie of the Year for his achievements in his inaugural season in the majors, 2005. Last year, the Dominican native batted. 319. He set several career highs- home runs (28), runs batted in (109), slugging percentage (.534) and on base plus slugging (.914). He tied his previous season high with 103 runs scored.
Pabón not only lauded Cano as a great player who he predicted will become the future face of the Yankees, but praised his decency as a human being. He recalled Cano’s efforts to bring ambulances to his home town of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.
Pabón does not believe in giving his honorees trophies which he said, “Players like Cano have been receiving since they’re five years old. Cano received a drawing from John Pennisi and a painting from James Fiorentino.
There was a moment of silence to honor the late Emilio “Milito” Navarro, to whom the luncheon was dedicated to. Navarro recently passed away at the age of 105. A smile was brought to the face of anyone who met the good humored and good hearted gentleman when he visited the Bronx three years ago.
As in the previous functions of Latino Sports held at this venue during the past few years., the food served was delicious and the service was excellent, two features that have remained consistent at these affairs.
Another salute to current Yankees took place 11 blocks north of Giovanni’s at Billy’s Sports Bar. The popular meeting place for good food, drink and camaraderie across the street from the site of the previous Yankee Stadium was filled with Yankees fans later that same afternoon.
The talented and experienced broadcaster and writer Felix DeJesus and Sadiel Lebron hosted the festivities that saluted a variety of current Yankees. The Yankees receiving the plaudits of those present included bench coach Tony Peña.
The experienced baseball man began in the minors in 1976. He had a successful career in the big leagues of 18 seasons during which he was a five-time National League All Star. The native of the Dominican Republic served as a Major League coach and manager after his playing career ended. Peña was the American League Manager of the Year while piloting spoke of his happiness being a member of the Yanks. When asked if he is disturbed by not getting a great amount of time in the outfield, he graciously praised Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher.
Also honored at the event that was sponsored by Ron Bermudez, Café Bustelo, and Porta Bella were several Latino members of the media including the veteran broadcaster from Venezuela Beto Villa, who is in his 15th season broadcasting Yankees games in Spanish.
Each of the two events, although different, were important and worth attending. Both also reflected the warmth and good fellowship that is an integral part of Latin culture.