SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- One of the biggest names in the music industry delivered once again.Puerto Rico's own Daddy Yankee threw out the ceremonial first pitch as part of a star-studded program before the final game between the Twins and the Indians in the Puerto Rico Series on Wednesday
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- One of the biggest names in the music industry delivered once again.
Puerto Rico's own Daddy Yankee threw out the ceremonial first pitch as part of a star-studded program before the final game between the Twins and the Indians in the Puerto Rico Series on Wednesday night.
The pitch was a strike.
"I'm so honored for the invitation and to be a part of an important part of our history," said the recording artist superstar most recently known for "Despacito," a hit song on which he collaborated with Luis Fonsi. "More importantly, I'm so happy to see all the children having fun and enjoying the experience with all of the players here. I was a kid and I had dreams, and I know they do, too."
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Daddy Yankee, whose real name is Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez, has already donated more than $1 million to Hurricane Maria relief on the island. He spent part of pregame chatting with players, including Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, near the dugout.
"I want the kids to think they can make it to the Major Leagues and they can make their dreams come true," the singer said. "There is nothing these kids can't accomplish, and I hope I can also inspire them in some way."
Daddy Yankee's pitch was preceded by Puerto Rican musician Pedro Capó performing "La Borinquena," the island's anthem. Marileyda, winner of the 2013 Idol Puerto Rico competition, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar delivered the game ball to the mound.
There was also a special pregame ceremony in support of Little Leaguers on the island that featured Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario, Lindor and Indians pitcher Corey Kluber. MLB provided new equipment and apparel to 150 Little League youth softball and baseball teams, reaching a total of more than 2,000 players.
"When I was a kid, I saw the Expos of Montreal and the Marlins play here at Hiram Bithorn. I saw Vladimir Guerrero and I told myself I wanted to play here one day, too," Rosario said. "This is my dream, and I hope it's a dream for the little kids to see me and try to do the same thing."
Additionally, the Major League Baseball Players Association's Players Trust presented a $200,000 grant to Feeding America to help the organization's efforts to distribute food and supplies to those still impacted by Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma. The grant will benefit four food banks in Florida and Puerto Rico and help underwrite additional staff support for Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico, a member of Feeding America. Lindor, Rosario and Minnesota infielder Eduardo Escobar were among the participants in the presentation.
"Throughout the history of the players union and the players in general, Puerto Rico has a long history with us," said former Major League pitcher Javier Vazquez, an executive with the MLBPA who is the winningest Major League pitcher from Puerto Rico. "We always try to help out when it is needed. Whether that's Houston with the hurricane or Puerto Rico. We have a lot of players that want to help different communities."
The pregame ceremonies capped a busy three days of giving back to the island by MLB, the MLBPA, the Twins and the Indians. There is still more work to be done. There was a power outage that impacted the entire island Wednesday.
"This has been a very important event for Puerto Rico, especially after the hurricane," Vazquez said. "We needed an event like this that is shown worldwide and televised nationally to show the great players we have, the history of baseball here, and that Puerto Rico is strong and up and running. Slowly but surely, it's getting there."
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.