Saul Martinez is no stranger to the Cal Ripken World Series. He and his wife, Cynthia, have housed players from Team Mexico for the past eight years. They chose to work with Team Mexico originally, which is where Cynthia’s family comes from, but this year they ended up helping Team Puerto Rico. Saul’s family is from Puerto Rico so it makes sense, but he knows the Manager from Mexico will be disappointed.
Saul hosted three players from Team Puerto Rico in his house: shortstop Peter Vazquez, catcher Luiz “Xabi” Nieves and utility player/pitcher Edgar Nieves. They had their choice of food for just about every meal. The Martinez family provided them with a wide spread for breakfast every morning including: pancakes, French toast, cereal, eggs and all the other usual breakfast amenities. As for dinners, they had a lot of hamburgers and hotdogs, but also had some Puerto Rican food. Chicken and rice and sweet plantains are a staple in Puerto Rico, and all three were happy to have a taste of home in Maryland.
As for recreation, the three players all stayed together in Saul’s basement where they had unlimited access to a Playstation 4 and a pool table.
“They played MLB 2k16 nonstop,” said Martinez’s nephew, Jaden Martinez. When asked who was the best at the video game, there was clear dissension amongst the three of them. They all claimed to be the best but eventually an answer was found.
“Peter or Edgar,” said Xabi and Jaden. “They’re both really good. Peter probably plays the most.”
All three played with their favorite teams, all of which are different.
“I like the Indians,” said Peter. “Francisco Lindor is my favorite player. I definitely like playing as the Indians.”
“Mets,” said Edgar. “My grandparents are from New York. But my favorite player is Bryce Harper.”
Xabi preferred the Houston Astros and hometown hero, shortstop Carlos Correa.
“Correa is good,” said Xabi. “Houston has a lot of good players.”
The players had a lot of fun while they were in Aberdeen. The Martinez family and their visiting players, as well as some others from Team Puerto Rico, attended a Baltimore Orioles game against the Texas Rangers. They had a team barbecue on their off day at Rocks State Park in Forest Hill, Maryland, just 20 minutes up the road from the Ripken Baseball Complex. Also in attendance at the barbecue was Team Mexico and Team Dominican Republic. It was a fun outing and a good opportunity to make friends with players from the other countries.
“We hadn’t hung out with any players from the other teams,” said Peter. “I was excited to meet them; I was especially excited to play Team Dominican Republic.”
All three players agreed, and exuded a lot of excitement to play against their cross-island rival. Both countries have a rich history of producing fine baseball players and many of the players had a baseball bat in their hand before they could walk. Even though there was a lot of fun outside of the baseball park, the players were well-prepared and rested for their games.
“I’m a former Staff Sergeant,” said Saul. “I definitely had them going to bed at a good time and waking up early. I like to think nobody else spends as much time with their players as a host. They were rested and ready to go.”