March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010
August 2010
September 2010 October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019 October 2019 November 2019 December 2019 January 2020 February 2020 March 2020 April 2020 May 2020 June 2020 July 2020 August 2020 September 2020 October 2020 November 2020 December 2020 January 2021 February 2021 March 2021 April 2021 May 2021 June 2021 July 2021 August 2021 September 2021 October 2021 November 2021 December 2021 January 2022 February 2022 March 2022 April 2022 May 2022 June 2022 July 2022 August 2022 September 2022 October 2022 November 2022 December 2022 January 2023 February 2023 March 2023 April 2023 May 2023 June 2023 July 2023 August 2023 September 2023 October 2023 November 2023 December 2023 January 2024 February 2024 March 2024 April 2024
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
News Every Day |

Refuge on the field: A migrant boy finds home in baseball

Refuge on the field: A migrant boy finds home in baseball

Between batters with no music playing, Yoel Guerra danced, swinging his hips in the infield between the bases. But as his opponent stepped up to bat, he crouched down, ready to field the ball.

The 16-year-old from the northern state of Aragua, Venezuela, has played baseball since he was 4. He’s been in Chicago for over a year now, and he said he derives the most joy from the field.

Guerra, who plays second base for the Farragut Career Academy Admirals in Little Village, scored two of the three runs — including one where he stole home — in the second game of a doubleheader Friday. Guerra’s ability is apparent, but it’s his love for the game that stands out.

Baseball is the most popular sport in Venezuela, a country in economic and political disarray, and the home country of most of the 37,000 migrants who have come to Chicago since August 2022. The game is played differently there, said several of Guerra’s family members as they watched him tag players out and catch fly balls Friday morning.

Migrants have faced hurdles in adjusting to life in a city that has struggled for almost two years to house and feed them. But for Guerra, whose coaches say has a chance of being recruited for college, baseball is a semblance of home.

Baseball is more than a sport, Guerra said. It’s a way to build confidence. It’s a refuge.

“I try to have the most fun that I can,” he said. “Whatever problems I have, baseball makes them go away.”

Farragut Career Academy sophomore Yoel Guerra, 16, from Venezuela scores a run during a game against Mather High School in La Villita Park Friday, March 29, 2024 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)
Farragut Career Academy sophomore Yoel Guerra, 16, from Venezuela scores a run during a game against Mather High School in La Villita Park Friday, March 29, 2024 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)

Guerra’s mother Carolina Escobar, 31, said her family of seven came to the United States from Venezuela, mainly for more opportunities for her children. They’ve been lonely since they moved into their new house in Little Village over a year ago.

It has been hard for Escobar and her husband, David Espinoza, 32, to find work. They mostly spend time inside their home, and they’re adjusting to the cold weather.

“I feel like winter will never stop,” she said, sitting in a folding chair in a Cubs jacket by the chain-link fence to watch her son step up to bat.

Guerra won Conference Player of the Year last season and made the Cubs traveling team. But Escobar encourages her son to focus on his studies so he’ll have the opportunity to get into a good school.

Thousands of kids, like Guerra and his siblings, have crossed several national borders seeking a better life in Chicago.

“They are carrying a very heavy weight invisible to many of us,” said Soledad Álvarez Velasco, a social anthropologist and human geographer at the University of Illinois at Chicago in a recent interview.

These kids have lost the places where they play and their communities with other children.

From left, Glorneilys Liendo, 14, Carolina Escobar, 31, and he sons Yervis Espinoza, 9, and Yorkis Guerra, 14, all from Venezuela watch Farragut Career Academy sophomore Yoel Guerra, 16, from Venezuela play during a game against Mather High School in La Villita Park Friday, March 29, 2024 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)
From left, Glorneilys Liendo, 14, Carolina Escobar, 31, and he sons Yervis Espinoza, 9, and Yorkis Guerra, 14, all from Venezuela watch Farragut Career Academy sophomore Yoel Guerra, 16, from Venezuela play during a game against Mather High School in La Villita Park Friday, March 29, 2024 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)

Though Guerra said he misses the way baseball was played in Venezuela, he says the team at Farragut has been a “beautiful welcome.”

“When I play well, I feel so good,” he said. “It’s the biggest thing that makes me happy day to day. And when I’m feeling sad, it makes everything better.”

Guerra’s stepfather said he believes there are more talented baseball players in his home country. He said the fan culture there is stronger, and the leagues at Guerra’s age are more competitive.

Some of the most notable players in Chicago have been from Venezuela, including former White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillén and player Luis Aparicio, the first Venezuelan in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Adbert Alzolay, for the Cubs, is also Venezuelan.

“It’s the pastime of our country,” Espinoza said. “There are always games on the weekends. Here, it’s a lot calmer.”

Escobar and Espinoza watched the game while their two youngest kids — 9-year-old Yervis and 7-year-old David — played catch on a nearby field. Yervis and David swung bats twice their size and rolled around on the grass.

The familiar merenguero chords in Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente” rang out from speakers in the dugout.

Farragut Career Academy sophomore Yoel Guerra, 16, practices hitting with his brother Yervis Espinoza, 9, both from Venezuela before playing a game against Mather High School in La Villita Park Friday, March 29, 2024 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)
Farragut Career Academy sophomore Yoel Guerra, 16, practices hitting with his brother Yervis Espinoza, 9, both from Venezuela before playing a game against Mather High School in La Villita Park Friday, March 29, 2024 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)

Guerra, his mother, and his two oldest siblings arrived in Chicago in February 2023 and moved into a house the next month. His stepfather had arrived in the city a month earlier, and his two littlest siblings came later with their aunt.

His youngest siblings were separated from their aunt by officials at the border because they weren’t biologically hers, and reunited with their mother in August with the help of Matt Demateo, pastor of New Live Centers in Little Village, which helps asylum seekers in Chicago. He is one of the coaches of the Farragut Admirals team.

Demateo said the team was too good for their conference, so they booked nonconference games for a bigger challenge.

On Friday, the first team — George Washington High School — started with an early 3-0 lead and never looked back, defeating the Admirals 10-0.

Guerra’s started slow, grounding out.

Still, his presence on the field was joyful, and he often smiled, even when his team was losing.

“Let’s go, Yoel!” Demateo said after Guerra threw the ball to first.

Farragut Career Academy sophomore Yoel Guerra, 16, from Venezuela sits in the dugout during a game against Mather High School in La Villita Park Friday, March 29, 2024 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)
Farragut Career Academy sophomore Yoel Guerra, 16, from Venezuela sits in the dugout during a game against Mather High School in La Villita Park Friday, March 29, 2024 in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)

During the second game against Mather High School, in a particularly impressive move, Guerra stole home to score.

Dust blew up in his face. He adjusted his gloves and glasses and walked calmly back to the dugout.

When the rest of his team was dragging, Guerra’s stamina didn’t waver. He hit a double to left field. But the Admirals still lost 8-3.

For a player who kills time between batters by dancing, Guerra is modest about his skills — his ability to throw perfect games and steal bases. He likes to connect with other Venezuelan baseball players, including opponents.

“When I had just arrived, it was really hard to get used to hearing a language I don’t understand,” he said.

Now, he knows more people. His teammates have become friends. To them, he’s not different. He’s their second baseman.

After the doubleheader, Guerra ate Little Caesar’s with his family and girlfriend, Glorneilys Liendo, 14, who is also from Venezuela. The two met at high school, and Liendo said she plans to join the Farragut softball team.

They stood to the side of the group grinning at each other and talking softly.

nsalzman@chicagotribune.com

Четвертый том в серии ко Дню космонавтики

Life On The Green: Jack Nicklaus, golf legends impart wealth of wisdom in Ann Liguori’s new book

Cyprus Closed Chess Championship names winners

Trump trial: Jury selection to resume in New York City for 3rd day in former president's trial

Ria.city






Read also

Supreme Court Hands the ‘Pillage’ People a Loss

Erling Haaland a doubt for FA Cup semi-final

Four killed in Ogun road crashes

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on Today24.pro

News Every Day

'Sticking his thumb in the judge's face': Michael Cohen says $1k gag order fines are joke

Today24.pro — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here


News Every Day

Cyprus Closed Chess Championship names winners



Sports today


Новости тенниса
Елена Рыбакина

Сложнее некуда! Прямая трансляция и превью матча Рыбакиной против непобежденной чемпионки



Спорт в России и мире
Москва

Baza: пистолет нашли в машине вице-президента федерации бокса Ингушетии



All sports news today





Sports in Russia today

Москва

ЦСКА в меньшинстве уступил «Ахмату» в матче 25-го тура РПЛ


Новости России

Game News

'The concerns about claustrophobia were a major aspect' of desiging World of Warcraft: The War Within's underground zones, says director


Russian.city


Москва

Студенты Московского областного медицинского колледжа пройдут практику в Раменской больнице


Губернаторы России
ЦСКА

ЦСКА потерпел сенсационное домашнее поражение в матче с «Ахматом»


Хоть куда: как выбрать чемодан для путешествия

Суд арестовал троих подозреваемых в поставках некачественной продукции ВС РФ

В России на треть вырос спрос на туристическое жилье в летний период

Подключение водонагревателя в Московской области


Леонардо Ди Каприо сыграет Фрэнка Синатру в новом байопике Мартина Скорсезе

Песня под Ключ. Купить Песню под Ключ. Запись Песни под Ключ.

«Накинулись на нас как голодные собаки на кусок мяса!» Участники шоу «Сокровища императора»обвинили Карину Кокс и Женю Искандарову в беспринципной игре ради победы

Никита Михалков назвал Слепакова талантливым артистом и пожалел его


WTA эмоционально отреагировала на выход Рыбакиной в полуфинал турнира в Штутгарте

Лучшая теннисистка мира сделала заявление перед матчем с Еленой Рыбакиной

Россиянка Хромачёва вышла в финал турнира WTA в Руане в парном разряде

Сложнее некуда! Прямая трансляция и превью матча Рыбакиной против непобежденной чемпионки



Суд арестовал троих фигурантов по делу о поставке несвежих продуктов в ВС РФ

В Подмосковном центре охраны материнства и детства принимает новый врач

Силы ПВО сбили воздушные шары ВСУ над Московской и Тульской областями

Kub Mash: в Москве водитель шесть раз протаранил машину семьи из Краснодара


Александр Бречалов и Игорь Маковский обсудили вопросы развития электросетевого комплекса в Удмуртской Республике

В Московской области сотрудники Росгвардии задержали подозреваемого в краже дорогостоящих технических устройств

Опубликован план мира, способный улучшить отношения между Россией, Нато, Украиной

ЦСКА потерпел сенсационное домашнее поражение в матче с «Ахматом»


«Все офигеют»: Крид решил купить Суbеrtruсk от компании Маска по «завышенному прайсу»

"Память о счастье" в музее Тропинина в Москве.

Al Jazeera: На территории больницы Насер нашли массовое захоронение палестинцев

В Подмосковье прошла акция «Библионочь»



Путин в России и мире






Персональные новости Russian.city
Семён Слепаков

Никита Михалков назвал Слепакова талантливым артистом и пожалел его



News Every Day

Life On The Green: Jack Nicklaus, golf legends impart wealth of wisdom in Ann Liguori’s new book




Friends of Today24

Музыкальные новости

Персональные новости