SI Vault
 
HEY, KID, WANNA BE A STAR?
Bill Brubaker
July 13, 1981
Because no rules prevent it, many young Latins fall easy prey to unrealistic promises of fame and fortune in the big leagues
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
July 13, 1981

Hey, Kid, Wanna Be A Star?

Because no rules prevent it, many young Latins fall easy prey to unrealistic promises of fame and fortune in the big leagues

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

And Ercilia Guzman, the aforementioned girl friend with whom he has since broken up, wrote (also translated): "Hello, how are you, my doll? I hope you are playing well and are in no pain. Above all, I hope you are reading the Bible. Pray, and God will help you. I am very sad since you are gone. But I get happy when I read your letters. My love, try to write your letters better. I can't understand all of your letters. Watch out with all the little girls over there. I miss you. When the telephone rings, I think it is you. My love, I know you're a good cook but be careful. Don't get sick eating the wrong things. I send you my kisses. I hope you come home soon. Send me your picture. I am enclosing mine. Be careful and remember me always, my love. I'll wait for you always. I love you. Ercilia."

In Sarasota Rijo appeared to be following the advice of his mother and his girl friend. After spending eight hours a day, six days a week at the ball park, he usually stayed home at night, to watch television ("I like Donny and Marie and That's Incredible!"), practice his English ("I'm trying to learn 10 new words a day"; his favorite expression is "thatta baby"), cook dinner ("He's quite a chef," says Gonzalez. "Especially arroz con polio") and read the Bible.

"Sometimes I'll read the Bible from the time I get home from practice until the time I go to sleep," Rijo said. "Reading the Bible keeps me off the streets, where there is only trouble. I've decided that to make it to the big leagues you've got to concentrate only on baseball—not on women or beer or anything else. I've decided that baseball has to be a 12-months-a-year job."

Twelve months a year—that won't leave Rijo any time to finish school. Or even complete his first year of high school. "No importa" he said. It doesn't matter.

It's not of great importance to Tosca and Wilhelm, either. "I think kids should finish school," Tosca said, "but in some of these countries they may be better off being out of school."

"Personally, I think he should get his high school education," Wilhelm said. "But to tell you the truth, I've never given it much thought. This is something that I can't advise him on. I look at him here as a baseball player. School, that's his problem."

No longer. Rijo decided after reporting to the Yankees' camp that his uncle was right.

"I can't worry about school if I ever expect to pitch in Yankee Stadium someday," Rijo said at the end of his first month in the land of opportunity. "I don't like school much anyway, so I'm never going to go back."

Rijo smiled broadly. "Thank God for baseball," he said.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13