Remembering 2012: Q&A with Ricardo Gomez
It may be the slowest time of the year for Revolution news, but we still have plenty to post here in case you missed it during the season. As we did last year, we’ll be posting a different column at the beginning of each week from the past season of the York Revolutionary Times in case you missed an issue at the ballpark.
A Conversation with Ricardo Gomez
Right-hander Ricardo Gomez has been a force out of the Revolution bullpen over the last two seasons. His success is all the more impressive, taking into account his world travels and the adjustments that come with, and his extremely humble beginnings in his native Dominican Republic. Below are excerpts from an interview he did with Revolution radio broadcaster Darrell Henry for a pre-game show on Sports Radio 1350 WOYK, radio home of the Revs.
(Editor’s note): English is Gomez’s second language, and he speaks it well considering he is self taught and knows the language exclusively from picking it up during his time playing in the United States. This is not a direct transcription of the interview; it has been slightly edited for reading purposes. The Revolutionary Times thanks Gomez for his patience and time in giving the interview.
DH: You played in a league in Panama before coming to the Revolution in 2011. Not many people here know what the league is like down there, what is it like?
RG: In Panama, it’s like Double-A or High-A. Like you said, not many people here know, but in Panama they have a lot of players signed, but they stay in that league first, they pay really good money. That’s why I started to play in Panama, and then came here in the second half. We won the championship there. I’ve also pitched in Taiwan, but in the meantime I work hard every day, I want to help the York Revolution win.
DH: You mentioned you won a championship in Panama. Do they have a lot of fans that get into it like in the winter leagues?
RG: Ohhh, they’re crazy. I’ve never seen so many people. Like 25,000, 30,000. In Panama, that’s the first sport, baseball. That’s why everybody is involved. The first time I went to Panama, I said “I’ve never heard that Panama plays baseball.” But as soon as I go there, in the first game there’s like 25,000 people. I say “oh my God, that’s crazy you know what I mean?” Baseball, that’s their sport, that’s beautiful. When you get the chance to play baseball, that’s nice bro.
DH: So you’ve played in Panama, Taiwan. How many different countries have you pitched in during your career, can you name them all off the top of your head?
RG: I’ve pitched in Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Columbia and in my country, the Dominican Republic. Also Spain and Italy. But my dream is to play in Japan, because you know if you play well over there, you might have a chance to play in Major League Baseball. But if that doesn’t happen, I’m happy, happy every day God has given me this opportunity to play, have my profession be baseball. I’m happy everyday God has made me healthy to play baseball.
DH: With all your travels, how much have you enjoyed your time here in York?
RG: Great, great. I like it. I played for three years for Lancaster, nice city like yours. I’m doing fine here, everybody is nice to me. We have a very good team, we play together. That’s about it. When we talk about a team, this is a team. It’s not two guys here, two guys here. No, it’s a team. Everybody is together, and that’s what it’s all about.
DH: Who did you play with that made it to the Major Leagues?
RG: I played with so many guys. I played with (Robinson) Cano, Melky Cabrera, Chien-Ming Wang, Aramis Ramirez.
DH: You’re from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, that’s your hometown. What can you tell us about what life was like there, how was it back home?
RG: I played in that country from when I was a little boy, in a league there. I had a coach who showed me how to play baseball, how to play hard. The Dominican Republic is the best in Latin America for baseball. That’s why we send so many players. The only thing we do in the Dominican Republic is play baseball. But for me, when I started to play baseball, I didn’t have any shoes or a glove. So we’d make a glove if you didn’t have the money to buy one. It’s very different, if you didn’t have the money to buy your things. That’s why I appreciate whatever I have now, whatever God gives me. Especially my family, I appreciate it so much.
DH: That experience had to have made you tough, didn’t it? The pressure of playing at the pro level isn’t so bad after growing up like that, is it?
RG: Oh yeah. The only pressure every day in the Dominican Republic is, “will I get enough to eat?” Pressure is “I will eat today, but I don’t know if I’m going to eat the next day.” That’s the pressure we had, you know what I mean? And thank God because I knew so many people who helped me get everything. Food, glove, clothes, shoes. I think about that, as I work harder everyday and try to get better and better.
DH: How would you make a glove? What materials did you have?
RG: We used an orange juice carton, we’d make the glove from there.
DH: And now you live in New York City?
RG: Yeah. I’ve lived for like 14 years in New York City, I have my wife, I have a daughter and a son. New York City is where my heart is now.
DH: Do you go back to the Dominican Republic during the offseason at all?
RG: Oh yeah, I go every year. When I’m not playing, I go back to visit my mother, my brother and my sister. I like my country, you know what I mean? If I had the money, I’d come here to play and live in my country. But it’s very difficult to live in my country if you don’t have the money to survive. But if I had the money, oh man. I’d live in my Dominican Republic.