You mentioned when we talked before that you had some really rough years as a teenager. If you don’t mind, tell us a little about it and what caused the change?
I didn’t grow up in a Christian family and so, you know, my three older brothers were pretty crazy growing up and were into a lot of trouble, and so I kind of really couldn’t wait to be their age when I was young so I could do all the stuff that they were doing. So , once I got to high school, it was my turn. So I got into a little bit of trouble, started drinking, started smoking weed, and started doing just stupid stuff, hanging out with the wrong people. And the way I explain it is I had my purpose on the baseball field, but outside of the baseball field I didn’t know what I was. And so it was tough. I felt like I had to fit in, and I felt like I deserved stuff because I was good at baseball. That was kind of the tough times. And growing up, when I was younger, my dad left when I was really young, but I still keep in contact with him. He still follows everything that I do and is constantly praising me for everything that’s going on, and he’s proud of me. But, so yeah, I was on the pier, at the beach at Homecoming, and we were high, and some guy was evangelizing on the pier and prayed for us there, and the Holy Spirit convicted me, and ever since, I went to church with my brother that next Monday night and gave my life to the Lord then.
So you’ve got the right perspective, and I applaud you for that big-time. All right, tell us the story of when you met Jose Abreu of the White Sox, then with the Cuban National team, how you met, what happened in the room, and all that stuff. Where was it at and all that?
Yeah, we were trading stuff with the Cuban National team and we ended up going into that room. In Cuba, I tried to get one of his bats, tried to trade, so we tried it again in the Netherlands, and we went into this room and there were two security guards in his room making sure that we didn’t and that nobody left and it was pretty serious. You know, I was trying to ask them, “Hey, which one of you is leaving (defecting from Cuba)? Who’s leaving? Is one of you leaving?” And no one would tell me. We were all interested. I mean, all the scouts were in the Netherlands there and it wasn’t to watch the National team, it was to watch the Cuban team. So Abreu ended up signing from that team and yeah, he was the guy that loved to hit the ball the opposite way and we tried to pitch him in as much as could and, you know, it looks like he’s making some pretty good adjustments.
Tell us the story, it’s an awesome story, of Carlos Contreras, your roommate, getting the call-up to the Reds. I guess he didn’t have a phone and so, let’s hear the whole story, because it’s just a great story.
Yeah, I guess the call wasn’t going through to his phone, so Delino called me and I was taking my dog out for a walk, and we were just gonna go back up to the apartment and he called me and I looked and saw Delino DeShields and was like, “Man, why is he calling me at this time? ” I got kind of excited myself. And so, I answered it and he asked for CC and I was like, “Aww.” And so, I was like, “Is he going to the big leagues?” And he said, “Yes, sir!”. I was like, that’s awesome. So I ran up and said, “CC, there’s someone on the phone that wants to talk to you.” CC was playing a video game. He was playing Reds vs. the Blue Jays.
I hope he was beating the Blue Jays.
That’s who he pitched against.
Oh, that is bizarre, that’s a cool little twist to the story…that’s right, he did (major league debut). So, how did he react?
So, he gets the phone. Delino was messing around with him in Spanish a little bit, so he didn’t know who it was, and then finally I heard Delino say, “CC, it’s Delino. You’re going to the big leagues.” And CC goes, “Who, me?!?” Like a little kid, like a 10-year-old and Delino goes, “Yeah.” And he goes, “Cincinnati? I’m going to Cincinnati?” And Delino was like, “Yeah you’re going to the Grande League, CC.” And he was like, “Oh, my God.” And so he ended up jumping up and down and, you know, it was awesome. It was probably the best moment of his life, you know, besides giving his life to the Lord, you know, and it was definitely the best moment of my life, just watching him. I hope my reaction is just as good, that’s what I tell everyone, because his was priceless.
And you said he was kind of jumping up and down, hitting the ceiling even, or something?
Yeah, I recorded it on his iPad too. I instantly grabbed his iPad and started recording him just so he can have that memory for the rest of his life.