It is amazing when two worlds collide in a time when it makes a huge impression on one young boy, then years later it all comes full circle when that same boy, now a man, has the opportunity to not only live out his dreams, but share it with the man that inspired him to dream.
Mike Vorkunov of the Star Ledger writes that when Wilmer Flores was only 10 years old, he met Edgardo Alfonzo during a baseball game in his native country of Venezuela, at a time when Fonzie was a star in the majors with the Mets and the chance meeting for Flores was as he shared with Vorkunov, “awesome.”
Now as fate would have it, Flores is being mentored by the same man he looked up to as a child.
Terry Collins has said that a longtime Flores watcher has seen how both players resemble each other and with how good Alfonzo was with the bat, Collins sees the same with Flores, “bat potential (is) off the charts.”
Flores shares with Vorkunov what the comparison means to him, “He was a great player. The fact that he thinks that means a lot to me. I’m trying to get the opportunity, the chance to play.”
Alfonzo doesn’t care for the comparison but appreciates the way Flores plays the game, “I like the way he plays because he likes to go the other way, which is what I used to do,” Alfonzo shares about Flores. “I think he can have a pretty good career if he stays that way. He’s nice and quiet and he listens a lot. I don’t like to compare myself or compare someone to me, but that’s good when you listen, be quiet and do the job.”
Vorkunov adds that Flores had modeled his game after his idol and thinks he sprays the ball to center and right field like Alfonzo used to.
Alfonzo also sees a similar style to the way he hit during a game and thinks that Flores’ patience will be a key asset in his career,”When you go the other way you have more chance to hit for average, to stay close to the ball and get a big hit in big situations because you’re being more patient, instead of trying to pull everything,” Alfonzo said. “And he looks like that. He looks like he has great patience at home plate and waits for the right pitch.”
Alfonzo was brought in as a coach to help the younger players adjust their games for the next level, and as Vorkunoz adds, Fonzie continues to work with Flores giving him tips on his hitting and fielding and all Flores wants to do is soak it all up.
“It’s special,” Flores tells Vorkunov. “Special because of the kind of player he was and now he’s here, helping me.”
It’s cool when a special bond can be formed and it enhances a players potential and love of the game. Will be great to see how all the extra attention pays off for Flores in 2014. Hopefully he will get his shot to shine bright like Fonzie once did in a Mets uniform.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images & Julio Cortez/Associated Press)