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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 13, 2002 - Issue 65


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Big Leaguer Tells Shiprock Youth to Follow Dream

by Jim Snyder Farmington Daily News
Follow your dream and take risks.

That was the message Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Miguel Batista brought to nearly 350 Navajo youths Wednesday at the Shiprock Boys and Girls Club. The youths didn't mind waiting an extra hour in sweltering heat inside the club's gymnasium for Batista to arrive from Kayenta, Ariz.

Batista was accompanied by an entourage of Diamondback personnel as well as Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begaye. He and Begaye flew in from Kayenta to the Shiprock landing strip south of town off U.S. 666. Earlier they had toured the club there.

They were greeted at the Shiprock club by numerous Shiprock leaders, including club Director Tom Cunningham, Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie, state Rep. Ray Begaye, D-Shiprock, Navajo Nation Council Delegate Wallace Charley and others.

The pitcher, riding on a high of winning the World Series by beating the New York Yankees, was an instant hit with the youths. He greeted them with "yatahey," Navajo for hello. Diamondback workers immediately began tossing souvenir baseballs to the youths crowded together in the bleachers.

"I like it because I never really met anybody famous," said Logan John, 14, of Fruitland. "I think it's cool."

President Begaye was also pleased with Batista's visit. After the stop in Shiprock, they flew to Window Rock, Ariz., to tour the nearby Boys and Girls Club in Ft. Defiance, Ariz.

"I think it's great," President Begaye said inside the Shiprock club.

"I'm behind (the clubs) 110 percent." He added there are now 10 Boys and Girls Clubs opened across the Navajo Nation. Four more are due to open before the end of this year.

Batista told the Native American youths he had a lot in common with them since he was an Indian too. Only his tribe is in the Dominican Republic, Batista said.

"I came from a very small village. It doesn't matter where you come from in life, but where you're heading. They (the youths) have to see far ahead," he said.

The right-handed pitcher took questions from the audience, including how fast he pitches and how much money he makes. He said he pitches at 95 mph, but "it's not as fast as it sounds," and makes "enough" money without giving specifics.

He was asked how it felt to win the World Series.

"It feels good. What really feels better is knowing we beat the Yankees. You always feel good when you win. You can sleep better when you're happy."

His talk though kept returning to the theme of taking risks.

"It's OK to dream. All the great ideas came from a dream. Sometimes it means leaving your homeland. You have to risk everything you have," Batista said.

"I didn't come here to forget who I was or who I am. I am here to be the best I can be. Any idea you have, if you believe it, it works. Be proud of who you are. You always make a difference."

President Begaye also addressed the youths, telling them to live productive lives. "Learn to love your neighbor and yourself. Learn to learn your Navajo language. Learn your clan system. We support you. I support you."

Cunningham was elated with their visit.

"It's exciting. It's a wonderful thing ... for him to take the time. We appreciate that."

After the speeches the youths were invited up to the main table to pickup autographed Arizona Diamondback pendants. It took less than three seconds for the youths to jump off the bleachers and get into line.

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