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From the Barrio to the Major Leagues

by José Luis Villegas / Marcos Bretón
Currently Out of Stock

Product Details

10-digit ISBN0-938317-70-9
13-digit ISBN9780938317708
LanguageBilingual - English & Spanish
Page Count148
Publication DateApril 1, 2003
RightsAll Rights Available
Baseball has undergone a revolution, a salsa revolution. Latinos not only play on every team, but they play in starring roles on most teams: Miguel Tejada, Alex Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Nomar Garciaparra and so many others. And in the 2002 World Series: Benito Santiago of the Giants, Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels and their compatriots. Baseball fans know these names! And they have great memories of Minnie Minoso, Roberto Clemente, Willie Hernandez, Juan Marichal, Tony Perez, Rod Carew, Orlando Cepeda and the other immortals who brought the ambiente of Latin America to U.S. baseball.

With beautiful four-color photographs and bilingual text, HOME IS EVERYTHING documents the Latino baseball revolution in four different sections: "Baseball Is in Our Blood" which portrays the dirt-poor barrios where these young men grow up playing ball; "The Journey to the Major Leagues" reveals the hardships and homesickness the Latinos endure in small town "English only" America; "The Forgotten Ones" is about the players who didn’t have the skills to make it or suffered from simple bad luck; and "Immortals and Heroes" contains portraits of the pioneers and current heroes of Latino baseball. The first two sections feature the Oakland Athletics’ Miguel Tejada (American League’s 2002 MVP) as the Everyman of Latino baseball, following his career from the Dominican Republic through the minors leagues to the Major Leagues.

This is a book for the young dreamer, the stats freak and the historian, baseball fans and photography enthusiasts, the Spanish reader and the English reader. It will cut across cultural barriers to appeal to all people who are interested in the stars of major league baseball.
Library Journal
Highly recommended for public library baseball collections.

Bretón, a Sacramento Bee columnist, has taken a different approach, teaming with Bee photographer Villegas to produce what is more an eye-pleasing photo essay than strictly a history. He gives us a brief history and then provides biographical sketches of Latino players. He also offers the benefits of Villegas’s excellent camera work and a bilingual text. Further, he better shows the long row that Latinos have to hoe in order to make the majors, including many sobering photos and accounts of faded prospects back in the barrio. This is highly recommended for public library baseball collections.
Midwest Book Review
In HOME IS EVERYHING, Marcos Breton presents story vignettes of Latinos involved in American Baseball, told in both English and Spanish, and enhanced with full-color photographs by Jose Luis Villegas. Slices of daily life training and competing in this great sport, as well as the names and brief profiles of remarkable and dedicated people, comprise this celebration of baseball which is enthusiastically recommended for the fans of Latino players.
School Library Journal
This eloquently written, multifaceted photo-essay follows the story of Miguel Tejada of the Oakland Athletics, one of the most recent Latino success stories, but also includes stories of players who wash out, don’t make the big leagues, and elect to stay in the United States. José Santana, for example, was a prospect with the Houston Astros until he blew out his knee. In many ways, the chapter outlining the lives of 13 young men like Santana—talented, but not quite talented enough—is the most telling and heart wrenching. A final chapter on “The Immortals & Heroes” looks back on 50 years of well-known Latino players, adding the depth of history to an already thought-provoking work.

The color photographs are gorgeous, catching the spirit of both game and players with unerring visual insight. The Spanish translation, which is boxed in off-white on each page next to the facing English text, is seamless. This is an excellent addition for anyone with a passion for the game.
Runs are scored at the homeplate of a team’s stadium or local diamond: home is a place of acceptance and affection. Since 1902, Latinos have excelled in the major leagues, but many have experienced racism and a lack of acceptance or appreciation of their skills. But times have changed: The American League named Miguel Tejada Most Valuable Player in 2002, Sammy Sosa has recorded homerun history, and increasing numbers of Latinos have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Filled with wonderful, evocative photographs by José Luis Villegas and text written in English and Spanish by Marcos Bretón, the book spotlights the hardships that players suffered in their poverty-stricken hometowns, the challenges that they faced when coming to the United States, and the sorrows and thrills that they experienced while aiming for the major leagues. Many photos are of players in the Dominican Republic and the Oakland A’s farm team, and they focus especially on Tejada. Also included are photos of players who have tried and failed as well as athletes who have achieved success. For the major leaguers included, there are brief statistics of their careers.

This book is not so much for finding information about various players as it is a portrayal of the passion of the sport: the struggles faced by Latinos wanting so much to make it in the big leagues. It ably succeeds. With is dual language format, it will be particularly valuable to readers leaning English or Spanish as a second language.
Chicago Tribune
In 1993 the Oakland Athletics paid $2000 to acquire a Dominican who had just turned 17. The boy, like nearly 1000 Latino players each year, moved to the U.S. to begin life in the minor leagues. 90 to 95 percent of those ballplayers are eventually released without getting even a cup of coffee in the Grandas Ligas. This kid was the exception, and nine years later Miguel Tejada won the American Week Most Valuable Player Award.

While "Home Is Everything" is not specifically about Tejada, his image dominates. With the smooth words of Marcos Breton and stunning photographs of Jose Luis Villegas, Tejada's journey from the barrio to the spotlight of a youthful, exciting A's team is documented with heart and passion.

Readers will see the difficulties faced by children in the Dominican Republic, the cultural shock of playing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, or Modesto, California, and, at least for Tejada, a successful major league career.

The book, written in English and Spanish, is divided into five sections with Breton's essay, "Home Is Everything," setting the stage for the Villegas photos and extended captions. Breton gives the quick survey of Latinos in the major leagues, from the days of Jacinto Calvo and Jose Acosta, who played in both the Negro and major leagues, through Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda up to today's influx of stars such as Tejada, Mariano Rivera, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and, of course, Sammy Sosa.

But what gives this slim volume its gravitas are the stories, and the pictures of those who didn't make it. In the book's penultimate chapter, "The Forgotten Ones," we see former minor leaguers Robert Valera, Carlos Made and Alexi Velera sitting on the street corner in a rough section of the Bronx. We see Jose Santana struggling with a semipro team in Brooklyn, and Victor Uceta, who never had enough smoke on his fastball, returned to a Santo Domingo slum.

The book's most interesting photograph is called "Cultural Borders," where Latino and American players sit far apart on the dugout bench. Breton writes: "From the paltry amounts of money they receive compared to American players to diverging tastes in music, from different languages to different cultures, they dynamics on the 1996 West Michigan Whitecaps are emblematic of the schisms that exist between American and Latino players."

"Home Is Everything" feels dated because most of the photos are from 1996 and 1997. But Villegas' images of kids playing stickball on Rocky Fields, the determination and thrill on Tejada's face as he rounds second on his way to third and his first big league hit, and the sorrow on the faces of those who never handout possess the timeless qualities of dreams realized and hopes shattered.
full review >>
St. Petersburg Times
full review >>
El Paso Scene
Truly, this book will revive your interest in what used to be and, for some, still is “America’s game.” In any case, get the book for your own soul’s good. It also makes a delightful gift for someone who is crazy about baseball.
full review >>
Orlando Cepeda
This is our story, the story of Latinos in major league baseball, a story that is brought to life in the photographs of José Luis Villegas and the words of Marcos Breton. I’ve known José for a decade. He and his colleague Marcos Breton came to me in 1993 with the idea of publishing a book on the Latino history, our history, my history, in baseball. I was skeptical. I didn’t think it could be done. It had never been done. At least not well.

For much of my life, I had been an outsider in this game I love, as had many Latinos in the big leagues. We were misunderstood, our stories were overlooked, our contributions weren’t appreciated. We were only beloved in our own homes, in our countries. How could José Luis convey that in his work?


Through his compassion as a human being and his brilliance as a photographer. José captures how much we love this game, how much it means to us, how we begin playing it from the time we are children and how it is so much a part of our lives.
full review >>
Sandy Alderson, Executive VP Baseball Operations, MLB
Success in the Major Leagues is difficult to achieve under the best of circumstances, but in HOME IS EVERYTHING Jose Luis Villegas and Marcos Breton convincingly portray the additional difficulty faced by Latino players who have had to overcome barriers of language, culture and prejudice. While many players have succeeded despite these barriers, others have not. HOME IS EVERYTHING chronicles the journey which many Latino players take to escape poverty and adversity and to play in the "Grandes Ligas."
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