Baseball is a melting pot of players from different cultures and backgrounds. In the past, this has caused some difficulty in communication between teammates, coaches, and even the media due to the inability to speak English. Many players ended up choosing to take multiple English courses as well as get help from their fellow teammates in order to better communicate. Learning a language quickly is challenging, however, today this issue is becoming less and less of a problem since not only are foreign players learning English, but their teammates are choosing to learn the languages of their fellow foreign teammates.
This shows that it’s extremely important to all of the baseball community to be able to communicate and interact, as well as get along, with their teammates no matter the spoken language. To illustrate the diversity of the sport: 60% of MLB players are white American, 28% are Hispanic, 10% are African American, and 2% are Asian American. With such a range of culture, it’s obvious that not everyone will have it easy speaking English. Over the years the MLB has made extreme improvements to breaking the language barriers and the players and coaches themselves have been a big contribution to this change.
Many foreign players who come to America to play the game they love have a hard time fitting in with the team or interacting with media due to their limited communication. C.C. Sabathia, a pitcher for the NY Yankees, mentions remembering a time when fellow teammate Robinson Cano wouldn’t get the interview time he was deserved due to his lack of confidence in the English language. Other players who had troubles include David Ortiz, Carlos Beltran, and Mariano Rivera. Beltran says he had to mimic his teammates during drills because he didn’t know what the coach was telling him to do.
While many American players have learned Spanish to help communicate with their teammates, that’s not the only language English-speaking players would learn. Boston Red Sox teammates – Curt Schilling and Jason Varitek learned Japanese to better equip them to interact with Daiske Matsusaka who was joining the team.
The MLB has gone so far as to add free language services to players who request it and often provide translators to help transition a player still learning English a bit more smoothly. What’s even more amazing is the efforts of the English-speaking players who go above and beyond to learn the language of their teammates who aren’t from America, including: C.J. Wilson, Brennan Boesch, Jeremy Guthrie, and A.J. Griffin. These players show that being a team off the field is just as important as on the field.
All in all, it’s clear that learning another language can vastly improve a career, even a career in baseball. Not only does it allow better interactions overall, but it can improve relationships and performance. Get started learning a language today and skyrocket your career.