The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that a contingent of executives will travel to Mexico's capital, Mexico City (México, D.F.) tomorrow in order to attend the Premio Nacional de Deportes (PND) ceremony honoring Dodger first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez is the recipient of the 2014 PND, a national sports award presented by Mexico's La Comisión Nacional de Cultura Física y Deporte (CONADE). The 11:30 a.m. ceremony will be hosted by Mexico's Public Education Secretary Emilio Chuayffet Chemor at the office of the Secretary of Public Education (Edificio Sede de la SEP, Argentina 28, Colonia Centro Histórico, Delegación Cuauhtémoc, en la Ciudad de México, D.F.). Traveling to Mexico City along with Gonzalez and his family will be Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten, Dodger Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Lon Rosen and legendary Dodger pitcher and broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela.
"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," said Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten. "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."
Gonzalez will meet with every top media outlet based in Mexico City starting with a post-ceremony press conference tomorrow that will also include Kasten, Rosen and Valenzuela. Gonzalez will also provide additional interviews for extensive features with pre-selected print and TV outlets on Friday, December 5. His media schedule also includes a photo shoot with GQ Mexico. Gonzalez will also support Mexico's largest televised fundraiser, Televisa's Teletón on Saturday, December 6, which raises fund to help children with disabilities, cancer and autism. Since its inception, Teletón has raised more than $744 million pesos which directly fund children's rehabilitation/medical centers. Thus far, 15 have been established which serve more than 70,000 patients annually. Gonzalez will support Teletón by appearing on Televisa, will make a monetary donation to the cause and will partake in a surprise meeting with a special patient who is a Dodger fan.
The Dodgers have also partnered with the U.S. Department of State's Embassy in Mexico City to facilitate Gonzalez's engagement with the Mexico City community during his stay. On Friday, December 5 at 9:00 a.m., Gonzalez will meet with underprivileged students and athletes to emphasize the importance of education, physical fitness and team sports. Gonzalez will join the U.S. Embassy at the Colegio de Bachilleres in Colonia del Valle (Calle Matías Romero 422, Gabriel Mancera y Nicolás San Juan, Colonia Del Valle, 03100, Benito Juárez, Distrito Federal). Approximately 300 students will engage with Gonzalez including 20 members of the Special Olympics softball team and middle school students in Deportes Para Compatir, an NGO that uses sports to teach middle school students positive values.
The Dodgers will also engage with the Mexican community in Los Angeles this Saturday, December 6 and have also partnered with Los Angeles' Consul General of Mexico Carlos Manuel Sada in support of the Copa IME Becas at Rio de Los Angeles State Park (1900 N. San Fernando Rd., Los Angeles). 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. Copa IME Becas was established to emphasize the importance of sports and education. Valenzuela will be recognized during the kick-off ceremony at 1:00 p.m. This event will also be attended by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Gonzalez was voted to receive the 2014 PND award based on his 2014 regular season success. Gonzalez led the Majors with 116 RBI while batting .276 and leading the Dodgers with 41 doubles (3rd, NL) and 27 home runs (6th, NL) in 159 games. This year, Gonzalez also surpassed Vinny Castilla as the best Mexican slugger in history with 1,635 hits, 262 home runs and 966 RBI. Gonzalez was also the only Major Leaguer to win both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in 2014 and became just the fourth all-time Dodger to be honored with both awards in the same season. This marks the second time Gonzalez has earned the PND (2011). CONADE, the presenter of the 2014 PND award, is a Mexican government institution in charge of developing and implementing policies on a national level that promote physical fitness and sports. For more information on CONADE and the Premio Nacional de Deportes, please visit http://www.conade.gob.mx/.
Under the Dodgers' current ownership, scouting in Mexico was amplified and since 2012, a total of nine Mexican-born players have been signed. In 2012: RHP Lenix Osuna (Guasave, Sonora, Mexico), LHP Victor Gonzalez (Tuxpan, Nayarit, Mexico) C Julian Leon (Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico) and LHP Julio Urias (Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico). In 2013: RHP Bernardo Reyes (San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico), OF Antonio Raymundo Torres (Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico), RHP Carlos Felix (Navojoa, Sonora, Mexico) and RHP Victor Arano (Cosamaloapan, Veracruz, Mexico *traded to Phillies). In 2014: 1B Eric Meza (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico).
The Dodgers' history in Mexico is well-documented most prominently when Valenzuela made his Major League debut in 1980. The native of Sonora, Mexico became an international sensation in 1981 and helped the Dodgers win the World Series. Valenzuela's success on the field catapulted the Dodgers' Latino fan base. The Dodger drew more than 1.8 million Latino attendees to Dodger Stadium in 2014. The Latino population of Los Angeles, which is largely Mexican, is 5.2 million and 42 percent of the total population. The LA Latino population is larger than the combined Latino populations of NL West cities San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver and San Diego. The Dodgers celebrate Mexican Heritage each year at both Viva Los Dodgers and at La Gran Fiesta Viva Los Dodgers. Gonzalez hosts Adrian Gonzalez's Viva Los Dodgers Days throughout the year and Valenzuela partakes in Viva Los Dodger events annually.
The Dodgers have made various trips to Mexico throughout its 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. A Dodger contingent visited the 2009 Caribbean Series in Mexicali. Gonzalez helped renovate a Little League baseball field in Tijuana in 2012 which was renamed in his honor at a November 2012 dedication. The Dodgers sent representatives to Tijuana to support the field dedication. Gonzalez continues to financially support two baseball fields in Tijuana for youth, Campo Adrian Gonzalez en la Liga Municipal de Tijuana. 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.
Valenzuela served as pitching coach for Team Mexico during the 2006, 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classic. Gonzalez has represented Mexico three times in the World Baseball Classic, 2006, 2009 and 2013, and served as team captain in 2013. Other notable Mexicans who have played for the Dodgers include Juan Castro, who currently serves as Special Assistant, Player Personnel. Castro was also part of the 2013 Team Mexico World Baseball Classic coaching staff. Castro is currently serving as manager of the Aguilas de Mexicali in the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (LMP). Dodger third base coach Lorenzo Bundy is currently managing the Mayos de Navojoa and has managed in the LMP for 20 seasons. Each year Dodger players and prospects participate in winter ball in Mexico. Dodger catcher Tim Federowicz is currently playing for the Mayos, managed by Bundy. Longtime Dodger scout Mike Brito, a native of Cuba whose scope of work includes countless assignments in Mexico, will be presented with the International Award at this year's Scout of the Year awards ceremony held during MLB's annual winter meetings.