In today’s stuffy world of pampered millionaire athletes and padded resumes, Red Sox starting pitcher Julian Tavarez is definitely a breath of fresh air. With a record that defines “journeyman” (8 teams in 14 years and a career ERA of 4.38), Tavarez was the butt of jokes and the target of boos last year as the Sox took their customary swan dive and sank silently in August and September.
The only time we noted Julian Tavarez in the Dowbrigade News before this season was one time last year, when we referred to him and Randy Johnson as “the two ugliest men in baseball.”
But this year, in a story that reeks of redemption and resuscitation, Tavatrez has become the stuff of legend. In a sport which has traditionally attracted immigrants and minorities, his story stands out like a fairy tale. It has a Lincolnesque log cabin quality, but without the chalkmarks on the shovel. Tavarez grew up in a dirt-floored shack in Santiago, Domincan Republic, shining shoes and selling newspapers.
He claims, not exactly with pride, but certainly not with shame, that he has never spent a single day in school. His entry in Wikipedia supports this, but the ever-politically correct Red Sox have on their official site that he attended public school in the Dominican Republic.
Guess they can’t handle having a popular player who is as unschooled as the wild boy raised by the wolves. What kind of role model would that be for the kids of America? “I’m not going to school today! Julian Tavarez never went to school.”
No, kids, growing up, he was too busy supporting his family and staying alive on the streets to go to school. That, and play baseball whenever he could take time off from surviving. Even young, Julian knew that baseball was his ticket out.
Of course, he had plan B. If baseball didn’t work out, he was planning a career in adult films. He had all the prerequisites.
You gotta love this guy. He got suspended for the first ten games of his Red Sox career for a fight in spring training.
This year, he has become Manny Ramirez’s binky. In the dugout, Manny will impulsively grab the 6’2″ Tavarez like a rag doll, and rub his kinky hair for luck, or as some sort of Dominican nuggie.
Tavarez, ever humble, doesn’t protest. He just wants to help out the team, in whatever way he can. Pain is nothing to him. Here he is after taking a no-decision on Saturday, as quoted in the Globe.
“Anything to help this team win. People look at you as a clown, dumb and stupid. People, fans, players, teammates look at you as a clown, as stupid, as a dummy who always does something to make people laugh. They don’t admit the truth and say, ‘You know what, that guy who is stupid and a dummy, he’s going to make something happen to win. Pain is nothing to him. He’ll do something to find a way to win.’ And that’s me. Dumb like a fox.”