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Lazaro Diaz

Immigrant Archive Project
Lazaro Antonio Diaz, is an umpire in Major League Baseball. Díaz was the second base umpire when Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's career home run record. On July 23, 2009, Díaz was the third base umpire for Mark Buehrle's perfect game. Prior to his Major League Baseball career, Mr. Diaz served in the Marine Corps Reserves.
Show transcript
00:00
When I step on the field, uh I try to be the best that I could be
00:05
So one I won't let down my family, my friends in my Latin community
00:11
my dad's generation started from zero.
00:21
They had to find their way to make it here.
00:26
Uh Some came to this country not knowing how to lay blocks be
00:32
mechanics, painters, uh construction.
00:36
I mean, whatever they, they all they knew in Cuba was uh getting
00:40
a machete and cutting down sugar cane.
00:42
Um They, they probably had some mechanics but, you know, when
00:45
they came here they didn't have the, uh the schooling that
00:50
they have here for do what, what they do here as a mechanic or
00:54
a contractor or a, you know, a licensed plumber.
00:59
So I guess when they, that generation got here they had to find
01:03
different jobs uh to see what they're, they were good at and
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then when they found something they were good at, they stuck
01:12
to it and they taught their kids.
01:15
Yeah, I'm gonna, you gonna play baseball but just in case you
01:17
didn't make it, hey, you got a company here that you can play
01:20
blocks or you got a company here where you can be a mechanic
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you know, if you don't want to go to school.
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And that was a big thing.
01:27
They would, that generation, uh, they found tough jobs, hard
01:33
working jobs and I think that was a, something that they, they
01:39
did on purpose, the older generation because that made you
01:44
go to school and study to become an architect or a doctor or
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work somewhere where it's indoors with ac and that didn't
01:54
have to bust your butt like they did on an outside world.
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And I, you know, I've thought about that, like, why is he picking
02:02
this and not doing something indoors?
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You know, and that's probably, I think what, that generate
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a lot of that generation did got worked in hard jobs.
02:12
So that way when they had their kids or like, hey, if you don't
02:15
want to study, this is your life and that kind of forced us to
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like, ok, I better, I better study because if I don't study
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I don't get good grades.
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I don't do something with my life, I'm gonna have to fall back
02:31
into laying blocks.
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I mean, it gave us what we have today because he did that.
02:37
I'm 49 gonna be 50 next year and for 45 years that I can remember
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that's what he did.
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So it, uh, that bought land blocks, bought me three cars that
02:50
I, that I had growing up because I've worked with him.
02:52
The house that, that we, that I grew up in, you know, land blocks
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did uh gave us a lot.
02:59
But I think he said, hey, this is hard work.
03:02
And if you don't wanna do this, get your butt to study and do
03:07
something better for yourself.
03:09
My mom worked in factories.
03:11
Uh So what to talk about the soil machines.
03:13
Yeah, she sold bags, sold.
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Uh I mean that, that's the factory because when that was a job
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for the women, the women that came from Cuba, the main thing
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that they did in Cuba was sew, they were, they know how to get
03:27
a machine and, and they could sew anything.
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So what were the jobs when they got here was, was sewing shoes
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uh, blankets.
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This and that.
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And my mom, she said, you know, till a couple of years ago, that's
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what she, she was a sewer.
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She, you know, all the factories you needed people to, to sew
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everything, sold shoes, so bags, so, uh, curtains, so, uh
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jeans and, uh, shirts and most of the women that came from
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Cuba, that's what they did.
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That was their, their main jobs went in making nothing but
04:01
uh, they kept the company afloat with 100 sew machines in
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a, in a sweaty factory working from eight o'clock in the morning
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to four or five o'clock in the afternoon and then coming home
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and taking care of the kids, you know, so a lot of, uh Latin Cuban
04:18
women, you know, that they have just as much part of, of us growing
04:23
up, uh as our fathers because they, they're the, they're the
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heroes.
04:28
They're the ones that kept our, uh our family together because
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uh as you know, Latin men, us, Latin men were machos and, you
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know, uh now we're kind of relaxed but back then it was like
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hey, I'll go out and make the money and you go home, clean the
04:44
house, cook and all that.
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And plus if you could work, you do that and still come home and
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do what you gotta do.
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So they're the real heroes of, of our, of our house.
04:53
My father growing up in Cuba, he always wanted to be a baseball
04:56
player.
04:56
Um when he came to this country, he didn't have the, the tools
05:02
or the ability to continue to play and be a major league ball
05:07
player.
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So when his little boy was born, he says, hey, you're gonna
05:10
be a major league ball player.
05:12
And since I can remember, he put a bat in my hands and was pitching
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to me and growing up, uh he would all do the same thing.
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He would come from uh land blocks all day in the hot sun, come
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home at five o'clock and say, hey, let's go and he, he would
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pitch uh hit me ground balls, hit me fly balls.
05:33
Uh He wanted, you know, he wouldn't let me play football.
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He wouldn't let me play baseball.
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He goes, no, you're gonna be a, a baseball player.
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And I thought it was pretty good in, in both sports.
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But he goes, no, I want you to be a major league baseball player
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So we, you know, we practiced pretty hard to, till daylight
05:50
till night time from daylight to nighttime.
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We practiced even in the backyard.
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Uh, we had a pretty big backyard.
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He would hit me ground balls, turn on the light in the back porch
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and hit me some ground balls at.
06:02
I would say he was a Bobby Cox of amateur ball because he would
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get thrown out almost every game protecting us.
06:09
Uh Which, that's why Bobby Cox holds the record for being thrown
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out of so many games because he protected his players.
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And I remember one time we both got thrown out of the game.
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Uh, he had, I had an argument, he had an argument with the umpire
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threw him out and then I had an argument and we're both sitting
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in the stands together, both.
06:25
Uh, I think this is the first time their father's son ever got
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thrown out of a, a little league game or a optimist game.
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But he, uh, he coached us, he coached, coached me through the
06:35
years.
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Uh, he took us to Ecuador twice.
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Um He's taking teams to Puerto Rico, uh, playing fast paced
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softball.
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Uh, he's got a Nicaragua also.
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So he's, he's he like, he like coaching and he, every team that
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I was on, he, uh, he wanted to coach except for college and,
06:53
uh, in high school, but every other optimist team, travel
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team, he would, he would coach.
06:58
But once I decided that my days were done as a, as a player, uh
07:04
I still work with them in construction and, uh, it was hard
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and that's, you know, and that started, uh, I'm part in, uh
07:13
a little league in high school and so slow, slow pitch softball
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And he would let me go early so I could practice.
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And I'm one of, one of his friends that umpire when I played
07:27
he kind of said, hey, you know, you're not doing anything
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You just recently divorced, why don't you go, go to umpire
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school and I didn't want to do it.
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And my dad said, you know, it's not a bad idea.
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Go ahead and go and I go, well, that, you know what, it's 2 $2000
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or whatever it was at that time.
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He goes, I'll give, I'll give it to you, but you gotta, you gotta
07:50
push yourself, you gotta do what you gotta do.
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If I'm gonna give you this money to help you, you gotta, you
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gotta do it.
07:57
I said, ok, so he gave me that first push and I'm like, I didn't
08:02
want to let him down the hardest thing for a, a son of my generation
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growing up to do to a father's let him down.
08:12
Uh I've seen the, the communication, the interaction that
08:17
he had with his father.
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Um I remember when his dad came from Cuba, all four, my dad and
08:24
his three brothers were in my backyard smoking and they were
08:28
grown men, grown men.
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And the, my grandfather went to the bathroom and they, oh,
08:34
let's light up a cigarette when my grandfather.