By Jon Weisman
Adrian Gonzalez and his family will be joined by Fernando Valenzuela, Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten and Dodger executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen in Mexico City on Thursday for the Premio Nacional de Deportes (PND) ceremony honoring Gonzalez.
Gonzalez called the award, given to Mexican athletes who have made a significant impact in their respective sport and who are exceptional representatives of the country, “really the most prestigious award you can get in Mexico.” The ceremony will be hosted by Mexico public education secretary Emilio Chuayffet Chemor.
“It is truly my honor to travel to Mexico City in support of Adrian Gonzalez alongside our own Fernando Valenzuela who was very integral in the establishment of our significant Dodger fan base throughout Mexico,” Kasten said. “The Dodgers are fortunate to have such a rich history with Mexico and so many fans of Mexican descent.
“We applaud Adrian for being a role model on and off the field in Los Angeles, as well as an exemplary role model and athlete in his family’s own native country of Mexico. We remain committed to scouting throughout Mexico, and we look forward to our club’s future, which will undoubtedly continue to include Mexican talent.”
Under the Dodgers’ current ownership and amid an increased scouting emphasis in Mexico since 2012, a total of 9 Mexican-born players have been signed, including prize prospect Julio Urias and, most recently, first baseman Eric Meza from Guadalajara, Jalisco.
The Dodgers have made various trips to Mexico throughout their history including a trip to Monterrey, Mexico during Spring Training in 1991 for a two-game exhibition against Industriales de Monterrey and the Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers also played exhibition games in Mexico City prior to the 1964 season against the Diablos Rojos and in 2003 against the New York Mets. Gonzalez himself helped renovate a Little League baseball field in Tijuana in 2012 which was renamed in his honor at a November 2012 dedication.
Gonzalez’s schedule in the coming days includes a photo shoot with GQ Mexico and support of Mexico’s largest televised fundraiser, Televisa’s Teletón (which raises fund to help children with disabilities, cancer and autism), and meetings with underprivileged students and athletes to emphasize the importance of education, physical fitness and team sports.
As for Valenzuela, he will be recognized during a ceremony Saturday in support of the Copa IME Becas at Rio de Los Angeles State Park. The IME Becas program is a scholarship program funded by the Mexican government to assist students of Mexican descent who wish to further their education in the United States.
Valenzuela was inducted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico in 2013 which was also attended by a contingent of Dodger executives.
Thanks to Yvonne Carrasco for the information for this post.