Members of the Latino Sports Writers and Broadcasters Association (LSWBA) and Latin Sports were present at Yankee Stadium on Friday afternoon to award the 2014 Latino MVP to Yankees relief ace Dellin Betances as the top relief pitcher in the American League last season.
The master of ceremonies, Rickey Ricardo, a talented sports broadcaster for more than three decades, did an excellent job in keeping the proceedings moving forward, yet in providing the necessary emotional touch for an event that took place on the anniversary of the devastating 9/11 attack upon the United States. He told the audience when speaking about that unforgettable day, “Don’t forget about who we lost.”
Ricardo also asked the audience to aware of the many ceremonies being planned this month to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Of the hosts, New York Yankees, he commented, “They’re not turning a blind eye to our community.”
An emotional and meaningful invocation was given by Assemblyman Michael Blake, who is also a pastor. He closed by asking the Lord’s prayers on Betances so he could strike out the three Blue Jays who he would most likely face this week in the crucial series being played at Yankee Stadium. This remark received hearty applause from the pro-Yankee crowd present.
Julio Pabón took the opportunity to educate those present of the history of Latino Sports, now in its 25th year of presenting the Latino MVP Awards as well as a short recitation of the history, growth and increased importance of the Latino people in baseball and in the United States.
Several Latino community service awards were presented prior to the honor given to Betances. The recipients included Fernando Tapia, New York State Supreme Court Justice, Bob Sancho, VP of Development & External Affairs at Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Nelson Dennis, author of “The War against All Puerto Ricans”.
Betances, was born in Washington Heights and educated and raised in Brooklyn. He is a graduate of the Grand Street Campus in Brooklyn. The youngster was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2006 MLB First Year Player Draft. The year before being drafted, Betances was the first New York City high school player to be named an Aflac All-American. At the ceremony in the “old’ Yankee Stadium, the hurler was joined by Alex Rodriguez, now his teammate on the Yankees.
The 6-8 pitcher, having appeared in only eight major league games before 2014, was considered a rookie last season. His remarkable achievements during that season made him a clear favorite to win. He pitched 90 innings in 70 games, striking out 135 batters. He yielded only 46 hits, an American League record for the lowest hits per 9 innings, 4.60. He completed the season with a mark of 5-0 and an ERA of 1.40. He was chosen to be a member of the A.L. All-Star squad although he did not receive an opportunity to pitch in the game.
In the short period of time he has been a Yankee, the 27 year old hurler has gained a deserved reputation for his cooperative nature with both the media and the fans. He showed his decent nature is giving thanks for the honor he received, “I’m a proud Latino. I thank my parents for how they raised me. I thank my wife for being with me. The years in the minors were not easy. I’m thankful I’m playing for the team I cheered for. I thank all of you for being here.” He also exhibited his personal graciousness by posing for photos and signing autographs to all who requested.