Opinion

Venezuelans back their countrymen — if they’re Royals, that is

Carlos Daniel Hernandez (from left), Marcos Tassinari, Raffaele Toscano and Andrea Hernandez traveled from their home country of Venezuela to watch the Royals play in the World Series. Carlos became a Royals fan while attending KU. He graduated with an economics degree in 2010.
Carlos Daniel Hernandez (from left), Marcos Tassinari, Raffaele Toscano and Andrea Hernandez traveled from their home country of Venezuela to watch the Royals play in the World Series. Carlos became a Royals fan while attending KU. He graduated with an economics degree in 2010. The Kansas City Star

Carlos Daniel Hernandez says his father promised him a trip to Kansas City if the Royals made the playoffs, but life back home — on Margarita Island, Venezuela — got in the way. Work was busy. Money was tight.

More than two weeks later, after the Royals swept the Orioles to reach their first World Series in 29 years, Hernandez wouldn’t allow excuses. A vacation to Kansas City — an hour’s drive from the University of Kansas, where Hernandez studied — was in order.

“We left a lot of things unsolved back home — work stuff,” Hernandez said. “But we said, ‘Screw that. We’re going.’”

Hernandez followed in his father’s footsteps and graduated from KU with an economics degree in 2010. And thus began his Royals fandom.

Baseball is the national sport in Venezuela, and when Hernandez studied at KU, he fell in love with the Royals. He drove to games almost every week.

He uses social media to keep in touch with his friends occasionally.

He follows the Royals daily.

It’s a bonus that the Royals now feature three players from Venezuela — catcher Salvy Perez, second baseman Omar Infante and shortstop Alcides Escobar.

“Everyone in Venezuela knows Salvy,” Hernandez said. “Everyone. He’s going to be a legend there.”

Hernandez, his father and three siblings plan to stay in Kansas City for a week. His sister, Andrea, is ditching her high school classes for her first visit to Kauffman Stadium.

Anything to see the Royals in the World Series.

“And anything to watch Salvy,” she said.

The Giants have four Venezuelan players on their active World Series roster — cleanup hitter Pablo Sandoval, center fielder Gregor Blanco and relief pitchers Yusmeiro Petit and Jean Machi.

But even with a Venezuelan flag wrapped around his shoulders, Hernandez made his allegiances clear.

“I feel bad because it’s great that he’s Venezuelan, but I can’t root for Pablo this time,” Hernandez said. “The reason we came here wasn’t for the Venezuelan players. It’s for the Royals.”

To reach Sam McDowell, send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.

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