Red Sox manager Alex Cora is the superhero Puerto Rico deserves
He’s sharing his joy of winning to ease the sense of suffering on the island
Joel Pichardo grew up a New York Mets fan, but he was watching Sunday night when Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox clinched the World Series title in a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. For Pichardo, who is Puerto Rican, the win was extra special for lots of reasons.
“Not only is Alex Cora the first Puerto Rican manager to win a World Series, but the fact I grew up watching him play for my favorite team made it even more mesmerizing,” he said.
The New York native has family in Puerto Rico. When the Category 5 Hurricane Maria ravaged the island last year, Pichardo said, he lost contact with them, although they were able to reconnect after his immediate family visited them on the island.
“It definitely affected me,” he said, “because it was hard to keep in contact with them with the power being out for months.”
Pichardo’s family and thousands of others like them were on Cora’s mind when he stepped up onto the championship podium and accepted the World Series trophy.
“The next thing I’m going to ask ownership is if we can take this trophy to my island. That would be great,” he said to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
“I think Boston is going as crazy as Puerto Rico right now,” Cora continued. “I cannot even imagine what’s going on in Boston. I cannot imagine what is going on in my island. This is for you, guys.”
Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Puerto Rico, and much like the people in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, Puerto Ricans take great pride in seeing their native sons make it to the continental United States and enjoy success in the major leagues. Congratulations poured in on social media from Puerto Rican baseball fans around the country.
Congratulations to @ac13alex and @RedSox! #AlexCora, you've led your team to an amazing #WorldSeries victory and made all of #PuertoRico (and your hometown of #Caguas) incredibly proud while doing it. ¡Felicidades, campeón!
— Discover Puerto Rico (@discover_PR) October 29, 2018
I don’t know much about sports, but I do know I was raised to love all things @Yankees. However, how can I not salute Boston and its champion @ac13alex from my family’s hometown of Cayey, Puerto Rico! pic.twitter.com/tSg9sdm2iH
— Abraham López (@AbrahamLopezNJ) October 29, 2018
— Jeriel Hernandez (@jerielh38) October 29, 2018
Cora is an even bigger success story because he is one of just three managers in the game today who are of Latino descent and one of two who are Puerto Rican (Dave Martinez of the Washington Nationals is the other). He’s also just the second Latino manager to win a World Series, joining close friend Ozzie Guillen of Venezuela, who won in 2005 with the Chicago White Sox.
“Congratulations, buddy! Thank you for putting Latin America on top once again!” Guillen told him in a video from his official Twitter account. “Viva Puerto Rico! Viva Latina America!”
But Cora’s win is more than a baseball story; it’s a story of humanity. Although it’s been more than a year since Maria made landfall, the situation on the ground is still dire. An estimated 11,000 Puerto Ricans were still without power at the start of the 2018 hurricane season, according to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. Worse still, a report done by experts at George Washington University found the death toll, initially reported at 64, to be close to 3,000 people.
Born in the town of Caguas, Cora agreed to become manager of the Red Sox on one condition: Boston had to give him a plane full of supplies to take to his homeland. They agreed, and he was able to help roughly 300 displaced families. When the report on the death toll came out, President Donald Trump dismissed it as an attempt by the Democratic Party to make him look bad, to which Cora took objection.
“I hate talking about politics and all that, but I think this is more than politics. This is about a country that really suffered,” he told ESPN in September. “I hate that people make it a political issue. This is about human beings. The people that went through this, they know what happened.”
Cora continued to keep his homeland close at heart, using Boston’s postseason run to give his people something to cheer about. “This [World Series title] is very special, but for me what’s more special is the way we’re recovering, the way we’re living day to day. I know you’re very proud of me. You’ve told me repeatedly, but I’m more proud of you.”
“What Alex did means a lot,” Red Sox catcher Christian Vázquez, a fellow Puerto Rican, told Lavidabaseball.com. “What happened with Puerto Rico with Maria, he’s going to open a lot of doors for us and for Latin America. I’m so proud of him.”
For Puerto Rican fans from down south in Orlando, Florida, to the five boroughs of New York City and beyond, Cora’s title run elevated him to more than just a Latino manager. For those like Pichardo, his championship win helped redefine the meaning of Puerto Rican pride.
“I think the Puerto Rican community needed this, especially as they’re still recovering from the hurricane,” said Pichardo. “Baseball is the main sport that gives us something positive to look forward to. [Cora’s win] gives us hope.”