Anaheim, CA: In Spanish we have a saying: "No hay mal que por bien no venga" (There is nothing negative that something positive can't come from it). That was the perfect quote for what the guest at the 23rd Annual N.L. LatinoMVP presentation for Albert Pujols experienced.
The event was perfectly organized at one of the finest restaurants in Anaheim, The Catch that was literally located at one of the entrances to the Angels Stadium. The weather, the food, the valet parking, the service and the guest that came from many areas of Southern California were all blended to take part in what has become typical for these events that promote a loving, learning and empowering experience.
The fact that this was the first LatinoMVP event in the West Coast in the 23 year history of the awards and that the Mayor of Anaheim, Mr. Tim Tait was in attendance, gave the event an even greater meaning.
Unfortunately, we had heard the day before that Albert Pujols might not be able to attend due to some important appointments that he could not change and the addition of some treatment that he had scheduled and conflicted with the 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. awards presentation. We spoke to Albert the night before and we tried everything to move some things around, but it was not looking good. We left with Albert assuring us that if anything changes in his schedule he would at least stop by to receive the awards. He also filmed a personal message for us to play at the ceremony in the event that he could not attend.
The event started on time and the networking session was effective for many of the business and community persons in attendance. The most rewarding was to see a core group of Puerto Ricans from New York who had relocated to Southern California reconnect and make new contacts some who had not seen each other in over twenty years.
After networking and a great luncheon the awards presentation began with popular LA Hip Hop Dee-Jay, Kris Figueroa welcoming everyone. The Latino Sports crew was still hoping that Albert might make this final phase of the event, but unfortunately, he did not, however, Mr. Tim Mead came representing the club on behalf of Albert.
Kris introduced Mr. Pabón who gave a detail explanation of the history of the awards and its relationship to Hispanic Heritage Month. Mr. Pabón also mentioned the importance of the growing Latino community and what the corporations need to understand in order to tap the $1 Trillion dollar Latino purchasing power. He acknowledged the contributions of Latinos to the game by also honoring the contributions of people like Mr. Lou Meléndez, who was retiring after 29 years in MLB and Mr. Arturo Moreno, the first Latino owner of a MLB franchise. Mr. Pabón also paid tribute to the great Roberto Clemente and mentioned that Sunday September 30 would mark the 40th Anniversary of Clemente's 3000 hit and stressed the importance of MLB retiring his number 21.
After Mr. Pabón' presentation two short videos were played. One was the history of the awards with visuals of the many past awardees and the second was a statement from Albert apologizing for not attending.
Mr. Pabón then presented Mr. Tim Mead, Director of Media Services for the Angels who again apologized for Albert's absence, however he made arrangements for everyone to come to the stadium for batting practice where he would have Albert Pujols come by and talk to the group and sign autographs. The response from the guests was euphoric, especially from the children who were in attendance. He also provided tickets to everyone to see the game.
Mayor Tait gave greetings and spoke of the values that the city of Anaheim had with a 55% Latino population and a very mixed ethnic population. He spoke about the recent riots in the Latino community and how Mr. Arturo Moreno stepped to the forefront to personally help by donating time and resources to the less economically stable Latino community.
After the luncheon everyone walked over to the stadium to attend batting practice and prepare for the scheduled on field presentation that was changed to also include Mayor Tait who had a proclamation and Mr. Randy Carlson, representing Diageo who presented Pujols with a beautiful Crystal.
After the evening's presentation, Mr. Arturo Moreno (who was standing inconspicuously by the dugout) walked over to Mr. Pabón to shake his hand and thank him. Mr. Pabón was pleasantly surprised and both immediately got into a Spanish conversation where Mr. Pabón thanked him for his team's cooperation in this event and for what he learned about his community deeds.
The evening ended in a story book fashion as Tori Hunter came through with a walk off hit to score the tie breaking run in the bottom of the ninth to set off the fireworks in centerfield and a celebration in the stands where everyone from the LatinoMVP luncheon was sitting high fiving with the regular loyal Angels fans.
Eleven-year-old Brice Perez described the day best when he told his mother, "This is the best day of my life."
Visit: www.latinosports.com to see pictures