Sandy Valdespino holding pictures of him with grandchildren (Source: WALB)
A picture of Valdespino in his playing days (Source: WALB)
Valdespino with his daughter Espy (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
In 1957...just 10 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, Sandy Valdespino left Cuba to sign a baseball contract in the United States.
When he arrived in Florida for Spring Training, he stayed in the same hotel as the man who made that dream possible.Valdespino was an outfielder and pinch hitter, playing at the major league level for 7 years with a multitude of teams including the Atlanta Braves.
In 1965 he went to the World Series with the Minnesota Twins.
Now a resident of Moultrie, he admits his stint in the majors wasn't easy.
But he says guys like himself, Jackie Robinson, Frank Robinson and Roy Campanella stuck together and helped pave a better environment for today's players.
"It's much better. It's 100 percent much better than what it was before," said Valdespino. "It was hard, but we faced it and we beat it We beat all of those tough situations until we made it, we made it to the Majors.".
He said usually when he and Robinson got together they didn't discuss all of the problems...they were more concerned with just playing the game.