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Paul Molitor: Spanish-speaking Players Expected to Learn English

Posted by GoGonzoJournal , 06 November 2014 · 3,222 views

paul molitor terry ryan spanish julio franco

Poll: Should Spanish-speaking players be expected to learn English upon arriving in the States? (18 member(s) have cast votes)

Should Spanish-speaking players be expected to learn English upon arriving in the States?

  1. Yes (15 votes [84%])

    Percentage of vote: 84%

  2. No (3 votes [17%])

    Percentage of vote: 17%

Vote Guests cannot vote
Paul Molitor: Spanish-speaking Players Expected to Learn English I have just two problems with answers new Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor gave in response to fan questions in a recent interview. First, he said he'd like his nickname to be spelled ‘Mollie,” citing that it looks more masculine, but I suggested his nickname be Paulie, as in a guy named Paul from St. Paul and the big sign in center field featuring a guy from St. Paul named Paulie. It’s common sense people.

This blog was originally published at Go Gonzo Journal.

My other issue is with his answer to a question from Andrew Pint about developing Spanish-speaking prospects. Molitor said, referring to he and Terry Ryan, “We feel it’s on the players who come here from various parts of the world, particularly Spanish-speaking players, to learn our language.” This is simply an insanely outdated concept. The fact that Tsuyoshi Niskioka, which I can still spell correctly despite not having to do so for nearly three years, was never expected to learn English and was allowed a translator in the dugout, is ass-backwards.

It should be on the organization to correctly develop their talent, not on the talent to do it all themselves. These young kids have enough on their minds trying to make a big league ballclub to have to learn English as well. I just watched the ESPN’s “30 for 30″ film Brothers in Exile, featuring the stories of Livan and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who had great Major League careers despite having never learned English because they had bilingual coaches in the minor leagues (Livan) and bilingual players in the majors (Orlando) to help them adapt. Hell, El Duque’s catcher, Jorge Posada, served as his translator in interviews.

Spanish is the second-most popular language in the world with 110 million more native speakers than English. If Ryan and Molitor blow an opportunity to bring in a Spanish-speaking coach, even an assistant coach, because of their outdated beliefs, the organization will suffer for it. I've pitched plenty of options, including Julio Franco as an assistant hitting coach and strength and conditioning coach. Franco would jump at the opportunity to coach in the bigs based on what I've read, and I think he has valuable experience despite limited time as a coach. The guy was basically a player/coach for a decade while still playing professionally.

Don't blow this opportunity, Paulie. Adapt, like you expect the Spanish-speaking kids to.


Anthony Varriano is editor of Go Gonzo Journal, a blog featuring the rants of fans and outlaw journalists.

So, are you saying the Twins should have hired his Spanish-speaking brother, Raul Molitor? :)

    • GoGonzoJournal and davidc3915 like this
Nov 06 2014 05:21 PM

If I was a coach, I'd want my Spanish-speaking players to learn English.I'd also want my English-speaking players to learn Spanish.

    • Seth Stohs, chamoman and davidc3915 like this
Nov 06 2014 06:28 PM

I think that our new manager is right to a point. But by the same token if English speaking players went to the leagues in the south I would expect them to be able to speak spanish well enough to get by. It goes both ways....I don't think spanish speakers should come to the major leagues and refuse to learn English nor to I think that coaches and players here should refuse to learn spanish.

This is very well argued.


I'm pretty sure I remember Dan Gladden say he learned almost no Japanese during the year he played in the NPB.

Yes. And not just for baseball sake, but for their own. Even though the majority of Latin players tend to maintain permanent residency in their home countries, in fact, they spend over half their year in the US. Just being able to order food, shop and live daily they are better off learning English. Gladden May have learned little to no Japanese in his 1 season, but had he been there longer he undoubtedly would have learned some, even by accident.
The Wise One
Nov 07 2014 07:03 AM

I like the old stories of players having to point at a picture on the menu to order food. The Nishi experiment is probably why they want their players to become bilingual. And yes it would be beneficial if the coaches could learn enough spanish to be able to chew them out in no uncertain terms in their own language.

Tony Oliva! But it does help, especially from those that make the jump without going thru any of the academy settings. But, how do they handle themselves in Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids and Chattanooga and Rochester, New York. On the major league level, you should at least have a player personnel person who hangs around before and after the game when players do press, and also available for continued learning as each seasons rolls.