This week marked the first time in eight years that Major League Baseball returned to the island of Puerto Rico for a two game series featuring the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins. Since 1942, the 3,515-square-mile island has sent more than 200 players to the major leagues.
The love Puerto Ricans have for baseball is felt throughout the island’s culture and history. That special bond made this season’s trip an opportunity to not only bring a sense of joy back through the game but also allowed players to show support for a community rebuilding in wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Alongside the Major League Baseball Players Trust and their teammates, Puerto Ricans Francisco Lindor, Roberto Perez, José Berríos and Eddie Rosario took the lead throughout this homecoming to give back to their community through various events over the course of three days.
— Jose O. Berrios (@JOLaMaKina) April 15, 2018
Players Going Home
Things kicked off Monday morning for both the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor as they traveled to his childhood grammar school, Escuela Villa Marina located on the eastern side of the island in Gurabo. There the Youth Development Foundation would host a baseball/softball clinic for approximately 250 students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. With such an overwhelming showing, it was one of the trip’s most memorable events.
Later that day, the Youth Development Foundation teamed up with Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario to host another baseball clinic, this time on the south coast of Guayama, Rosario’s hometown. There on the playing fields of his former high school, Escuela Dr. Rafael Lopez Landron, Rosario helped 75 students hone their baseball/softball skills. The visit to his hometown was one Rosario would not forget.
Following a busy day of giving back to the Puerto Rican community, it was time for both teams to suit up and prepare for the first game of the two game set. With the crowd packed into the historic Hiram Bithorn Stadium in the capital San Juan, Puerto Rico’s own Bernie Williams serenaded the crowd with both the Puerto Rican anthem, “La Boriqueña” and the “Star-Spangled Banner”. Lindor sent the home crowd into mayhem when he sent a two-run homerun into the right field bleachers to put the Indians on top.
What a great atmosphere tonight! Thank you to all the fans in Puerto Rico for such a treat. Let’s get another W tomorrow night #PuertoRicoSeries 🇵🇷
— Corey Kluber (@CKluber) April 18, 2018
Prior to first pitch, the Major League Baseball Players Trust represented by Francisco Lindor, Corey Kluber, Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar, presented a $200,000 grant to Feeding America for its ongoing disaster relief efforts on the island. The grant will benefit four food banks with service areas directly affected by the storms in Florida and Puerto Rico. In addition to purchasing food and supplies, a portion of the Players Trust grant will help underwrite additional local staff support for Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico, a member of Feeding America.
For the game itself turned into a 16-inning pitcher’s duel. Berríos threw seven scoreless innings against the strong Indians lineup. Tied up at one run a piece, it was a walk-off single from Twins outfielder Ryan LaMarre in the bottom of the 16th that scored Eddie Rosario and sent the fans home happy.
At the conclusion of the trip, Twins and Indians players showed gratitude for the Puerto Ricans’ hospitality and the opportunity to bring attention to the struggles Puerto Rico continues to face.
Gracias Puerto Rico! Fue un sueño hecho realidad jugar ante todos ustedes! Quiero darle las gracias a todas esas personas que pusieron su granito de arena para que todo esto se diera! Super agradecido por todo el apoyo! 🇵🇷🇵🇷🇵🇷🇵🇷💯💯💯💯💯 nos vemos Pronto Los amo PR! @lindor12bc #orgullosodeserboricua🇵🇷 #puertoricoseries #queserepitaprontoporfavor #isladelencanto #indians