June 22, 2007


Baseball umpire answers the call
: Alfonso Marquez, the first native Mexican to become a major league baseball umpire, spreads hope with charity and actions, never forgetting his roots and helping children try to achieve their dreams. (Kevin Baxter, June 22, 2007, Los Angeles Times)

[Alfonso] Marquez was only 7 when he left the farm fields of Zacatecas, following his mother through a small hole in a chain-link fence separating Mexico from the United States.

That was 27 years ago, plenty of time for memories to fade.

Here Marquez learned English, bought a house and rose to the highest levels of his profession, spending the last eight years as a major league umpire. Last year he worked behind the plate in the World Series. This weekend, he'll work the series between the Angels and Pittsburgh at Angel Stadium.

Certainly he could be forgiven if he had forgotten.

But instead, like Santa Claus, he returns every winter bearing gifts he spends the rest of the year collecting.

"Bottom line is there's a lot of kids that are forced out on the street at 11, 12, 13," Marquez said. "A lot of them are forced to get out of school just to work. So … [I] try to get them involved in some sports."

Along the way he has also provided faith, helping two other umpires turn a six-man religious retreat into a 2,000-member Christian church in Gilbert, Ariz., and charity, founding his own nonprofit group, Fonzie's Kids, to benefit poor children in Mexico.

But perhaps the most important thing he provides, to kids on both sides of the border, is hope.

"For them to look and say, 'Hey, this is one of our people. This is one of our countrymen. And he's made it to a high level.' I would definitely say he's making a difference just as people look at him," said Barrett, also a major league umpire and a former crewmate of Marquez. "But also I think the fact is, his heart is still down there. They've embraced him because his heart's never left there."

How's he ever going to assimilate, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 22, 2007 9:18 AM

Probably has TB, and his kids will be supporting Mexico vs the US in the Gold Cup Final Sunday. And how much is he putting into social security anyway?

Am I missing any nativist arguments?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 22, 2007 1:08 PM

Jim.... He took a job that a (white) American citizen should be doing.

Posted by: Chris B at June 22, 2007 2:09 PM