Monday, January 9, 2012

Talking island life with Adeiny Hechavarria

When I asked Adeiny Hechavarria about growing up in Cuba, he said they played baseball in streets and most kids didn't have gloves. What about bats? Hech made a chopping motion with his right hand, describing how he and his friends would use a machete, hacking away at tree limbs with the proper thickness. These were the most memorable interviews of a championship season. 

Many times after Fisher Cats games -- after the newspaper deadline was met -- I'd return to the clubhouse and speak with assistant coach Danny Solano about Adeiny, who often stopped by to join us. It was fascinating. Here was a player turning double plays with John Tolisano, whose father had a batting cage installed in the backyard. Adeiny and his brother, Alien, grew up poor in Santiago De Cuba, crafting wooden bats from tree limbs.

“We didn’t have too many gloves, maybe a couple,” Adeiny told me (through Solano) for a feature story in the New Hampshire Union Leader. "Guys in Cuba don’t have anything. Guys here have everything. Here, your dad keeps you in the right track. Sometimes in Latin America, it’s not that way because your dad has to go to work and kids play all day in the street.”

Fisher Cats shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in 2011. Kevin Littlefield photo

He went on to play for Cuba’s junior national team, defecting at a Pan-Am tournament in Mexico. “A lot of things went on that I can’t talk about. It’s difficult,” said Hechavarria, who signed for $10 million and found a way to move his father to Florida. When we last talked in August, he was trying to bring his mother and brother to the U.S. I wondered how much of his $10 million contract (through the 2013 season) has been spent on back-channel deals and agent payments.

Blue-collared Fisher Cats skipper Sal Fasano, a son of Italian immigrants, provided some money quotes when asked about Adeiny's background. "That's the beauty of this game. Once you fall in love, your background doesn't matter, even if you played catch with rocks as a kid."

In July, Adeiny made a game-saving play by ranging into the hole at short, back-handing a grounder, and firing home to throw out Reading's Stephen Susdorf in the ninth inning. "If he made that play in the majors, we'd be seeing it on SportsCenter and talking about it for a week," Fisher Cats pitching coach Pete Walker said.

1 comment:

margie sears sherman said...

always enjoy your writeups Kevin.....Adeiny one of my very favorite players good to see him moving on up.....I wish him all the best ......:-)