Royals proud to celebrate Hispanic heritage

Royals proud to celebrate Hispanic heritage

KANSAS CITY-- On Saturday, the Royals sported jerseys with a different name on the front. In line with the "Viva Los Reales" celebration of Hispanic heritage, the words "Los Reales" were spelled out in blue cursive lettering, rather than the typical "Royals."

"I think it's great that we have a celebration of all the Latin American countries and players," Royals Hall of Famer Cookie Rojas said.

Rojas, who was born in Cuba, said he thought it was a good idea for the Royals to honor the heritage of players who have made such an impact in the Majors. That message was echoed by several players in the clubhouse, who talked about the importance of honoring the community, in addition to the pride they feel about their native countries.

"It definitely means something," Royals infielder Christian Colon said. "I'm from Puerto Rico, and I think it's pretty cool that MLB and the Royals and everybody [gets] to do this tonight. It'll be good for the Latin community."

Across the clubhouse, Royals right-hander Joakim Soria was engaged in conversation with Rojas. The two smiled as they spoke in Spanish, and Soria was able to take a moment and talk about things beyond what might come up in a typical clubhouse conversation.

Soria said it was his first opportunity to meet Rojas, adding that it meant a lot to him to be able to have that conversation, let alone to participate in the celebration of Hispanic heritage.

"It's great. It's nice that the Royals ... recognize the Hispanic people, Latin people, Latin community," Soria said. "I'm proud [of] where I'm from. I'm proud to be a Mexican. I'm proud to be Latin."

In addition to the jerseys, the first 20,000 fans through the gates received a bobblehead of Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. There was also a salsa tasting competition, as well as salsa and Mexican music being played in the outfield.

But even more than the celebration of heritage, Rojas said he was glad to be invited back to the city in which he earned four of his five All-Star appearances. He said the Royals make all of their Hall of Famers feel like family, adding it was nice to be able to have conversations with players and fans and see the new excitement around the team.

"It's great to be here and see all the changes that have been done in this ballpark, which is beautiful," Rojas said. "It's really great to get back here and see all the excitement that [the fans] provide."

Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.