Concepción pays fellow Venezuelan ASG MVP Díaz a visit

July 22nd, 2023

MIAMI -- It would be impossible to find a fan who could relate more to Rockies catcher  after his All-Star Game home run than nine-time All-Star shortstop and Reds Hall of Famer Dave Concepción.

“I was watching on TV back home in Venezuela, and I was so happy,”  Concepción said. “I didn’t know he was going to be the MVP. But I was so happy for him.”

Díaz, who was named Most Valuable Player in Seattle after his homer gave the National League the lead in its 3-2 victory, joined Concepción as the only Venezuelan players to earn All-Star MVP honors. Concepción accomplished the feat in 1982.

Díaz didn’t quite get to his phone in time for a congratulatory call after the game. But longtime sports journalist Boris Mizrahi and the Rockies media relations staff arranged an on-field meeting before Friday night’s game against the Marlins at loanDepot park.

Díaz later homered off Braxton Garrett in his second at-bat, marking his first extra-base hit of the second half.

“It’s big for me,” Díaz said. “I’d heard a lot about him because he was one of the big players from our country.

“It’s been great, the whole All-Star Game experience.”

Concepción, 75, chuckled, and said, “I kept everything.”

During Concepción’s days with the Big Red Machine teams, Cincinnati had a policy that players wear black shoes with no manufacturer logos. But the Reds, who also weren’t allowed to sport facial hair, defied the rule for the ‘82 Midsummer Classic. Concepción had the biggest smile during pregame introductions when he showed off bright, white shoes.

“Converse paid me to wear them,” he said. “I’ve still got them at home.”

Concepción has long been a beacon for baseball players from Maracay, Venezuela. Two of the city’s other Major Leaguers, Rockies rookie shortstop Ezequiel Tovar and utility man Harold Castro, beamed as they conversed with their hometown hero.

Tovar and Castro, Concepción said, were way too young to have been on his radar. With Tovar being a rookie, Friday was the first time Concepción had a chance to see him play. But he had a preview.

“I played golf with a guy who said he had Tovar in Little League,”  Concepción said. “And he says he’s really good.”