Milwaukee Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado may still be an unknown in the United States outside of the city he plays Major League Baseball in, but he is certainly a big deal in his hometown of Naguabo, Puerto Rico. Maldonado used his resources to give back to the community on Three Kings Day.
The 26-year-old threw a party on the Christian feast day and handed out presents to more than 250 children who were there to celebrate with the professional baseball player. Maldonado got the idea to do such a great thing from his mother a couple of years ago in which she wanted her son to give back to the community that helped raise him.
“She said, ‘Once you spend more than a month in the big leagues, you should promise to do something for Three Kings Day for the kids,'” Maldonado said.
Maldonado far eclipsed the required month as he appeared in 78 games for the Brewers in 2012. The 6-foot-1, 224-pound catcher was called up to start for the injured Jonathan Lucroy. However, his outstanding defensive performances day in and day out plus his unexpected offensive skills was good enough for Milwaukee to keep playing him even when Lucroy returned. Even after such a great season, he wanted to make his mother even more proud.
“I grew up in a poor community, you know?” Maldonado said. “But my mom always found a way to give good toys for Three Kings Day and for Christmas, and I know a couple of friends of mine who never got anything. So now, I have a chance to give back to my community, to make some kids smile. I feel good today.”
Epiphany, which is also known as Three Kings Day, is one of the biggest holidays in Puerto Rico, one that the children look forward to as much as Christmas. Maldonado realized he would need some help in order to throw the perfect party so he asked the Brewers Community Foundation, as well as, Praver Shapiro Sports Management to help with the celebration.
St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, a fellow Puerto Rican native, along with the Brewers, sports agents, the MLB Players Trust and several other companies in the U.S. and Puerto Rico gave financial donations to help give the children of Naguabo the best Three Kings Day ever.
“I can’t thank them enough — everybody,” Maldonado said. “Hopefully we can do this every year. I was a little shy about asking people to help, but probably next year, now that we know how it’s going to work, we can get more support from my teammates. I would love for some of them to come down.”
As Maldonado’s fame and financial resources grows due to the inevitability of him becoming a great baseball player, the carnival should get better and better as the years go on. But for now, the fact that Maldonado accomplished what he could was amazing all in itself and I am sure Naguabo community will never forget what he did for them.