NEW YORK -- In 2010, when Jenrry Mejia made it to the Major Leagues and started to receive the income raise that came with it, the now-Mets closer knew exactly what to do with his newfound financial flexibility: take care of mom.
"Help your mother, leave that money for your mother. Don't take that money and go out and do whatever you want to do," Mejia said. "You have to think about your family, your mother, wherever you come from. I'm here now, but where I come from, I don't have money, I don't have anything."
It was lessons like that that Mejia and a handful of other Mets tried to impart on a group of about 40 Latino youth Tuesday afternoon at Citi Field. Outfielder Bobby Abreu, pitchers Bartolo Colon and Gonzalez Germen and bullpen coach Ricky Bones all took part in the club's first "Latino Leaders" event, which was meant to connect some of the team's Latino players with Latino children from New York City.
New York City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and council member Julissa Ferreras teamed up with the Mets to organize the event and bring in kids from East Harlem and Corona. The visitors had a chance to ask the players questions -- in Spanish -- as well as engage in team-building activities.
One of the questions seemed like an odd one -- what do the players, as big leaguers, eat?
"They think because we're here in the big leagues, they think we eat different food. We talk about we just keep doing the same," Mejia said. "We are the same people, same person. … You have to be the same person you were. Never forget where you come from, never forget your friends."
Abreu, who along with Germen kept their group chatty and laughing, took a serious turn toward the end to send an important message: Listen to your parents, and don't forget where you came from.
"The message at the end was stay good, be good, be a good friend, always be a good person. Listen to your parents," Abreu said. "Sometimes they say stuff that you don't like, but they always want the best for you. Try to just go to school, be a professional, get educated and be a good person."
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com.