Part 2: Carlos Correa
In Part 1 I argued that the character of the Astros, especially the Core Four, is what will make them a dynasty. These players share three qualities; 1. They are uncommonly driven. 2. They play for the love of others. 3. They keep it loose. Part I highlighted Jose Altuve.
Conversation between an ordinary 8 year old boy and his father
(son) "Dad, I want to grow up a be just like Derek Jeter."
(dad) "That’s great son."
(son) "Can we go outside and play catch?"
(dad) "Sure son."
(dad, five minutes later) "what’s wrong son?"
(son) This is boooring. Can I go inside and play video games?"
(dad) "Sure son"
Conversation between 8 year old Carlos Correa and his father
(Carlos) "Papa, I want to grow up to be just like Roberto Clemente."
(papa) "That’s great son."
(Carlos) "Well when I make the major leagues I don’t want an interpreter speaking for me. I want to speak for myself. Will you take on a third job so that I can go to a special academy and learn English. I’ll go to work with you. Please.
(papa) "Sure son."
(Carlos) "Great, I’m going to go outside now and practice my wind sprints on the street so I can become a faster runner. When I get back can we go to the field and practice?
(papa) "I’ve been working construction all day since 4AM. I’m so tired. Can’t you just go to your room and play some video games"?
(Carlos) "No papa, please throw me some BP. Hit me some grounders by the tree roots. Please, please".
(papa) "Sure son".
In case you wondered, all the details in the Correa dialogue above are true to his life. By age 5 he told his parents he was going to be a Major league baseball player. Every evening he forced his father, who worked three jobs from 4AM to 9PM, to practice with him on the nearby field. His dad and Carlos took on extra work to pay for his English education starting in the fourth grade. He attended high school at the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, where he had a 4.0 GPA, graduated valedictorian, and had a 1560 out 1600 on the SAT. Such an academic record would get him into most any university in the world, but his performance on the baseball diamond got him drafted #1 to a $4.8 million contract. For Carlos hard work, such as that he inherited from his devoted mother and father, was not just for baseball, but his work on the diamond sure paid off. His earliest dreams were coming true.
Here is Carlos, his father, and his high school coach discussing young Carlos’ work ethic and desire.
"There’s no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs." Carlos Correa
Here Carlos takes us on a tour of where he learned to field ground balls
"I would get black eyes all the time." Carlos Correa
Here Carlos explains why he learned English and the sacrifices he and his family made for him.
"I want to speak for myself." Carlos Correa
Like the other core, Correa is not satisfied just winning a championship. It is not in his nature or upbringing to stop striving. Even when he had just come to the Astros he expressed that his ultimate goal was to make the Hall of Fame, a goal he reiterated this winter. He recently added that "MVP is something I don’t want to retire without winning…I’ll just try to improve my game every single day to try to accomplish that."
To the Associated Press he expressed these goals for his team. "We don’t want to be just a team that people are going to remember for one year. We want to be able to build a dynasty here, to win two, three years in a row….We have the team to do it, it’s just upon us to put in the work."
For his personal goals he had this to say: "I had a really great year last year, but there are many holes in my game I can fix in order to get better… I don’t want to be one of the top players, I want to be the top one…that’s why we play." As a reminder of where he was drafted, and his responsibility to be the very best, is why he chose to where #1 on his jersey.
Expect no letdown.
Playing for the love of others/inspiring others by overcoming hardship
Coming from such poverty, at crucial times in his childhood career Carlos Correa received financial assistance, not just from the work of his father AND mother, but from his community as well. Like Altuve, he has not forgotten the people who have helped make him who he is.
"I will never forget where I grew up, where I am from…every year I go back home, talk to my people…bring batting gloves and bats and give them to kids whose parents can’t afford that stuff."
"What makes me feel better is helping society, helping others. I feel like if it was only about ourselves, God would never give us a family."
From an early age he has felt a deep need to give back to the community and the people he loves.
This began to dawn on him in seventh grade, when he researched the life of fellow Puerto Rican Roberto Clemente. According to Correa, "he paved the way for us Latin American players to be able to play at this level…if not for him, I would not be here." And now Carlos wants to be someone a new generation of Latin American youth can emulate. "I want to be an example to Latin guys coming up. Learn English…sell yourself the right way."
But the lesson young Carlos learned about Clemente that stuck the most was how Clemente died, New Year’s eve, 1972. "Here was a guy not out ringing in the New Year, but out attempting to deliver supplies to Nicaragua after a massive earthquake."
Apparently Young Carlos deeply internalized the lesson of service for, needless to say, Correa has been at the forefront of efforts to help hurricane stricken Puerto Rico. He even spent his day off, March 2nd, not to visit the President with his teammates, but to aid in relief efforts.
He began sacrificing for his people even before his senior year in high school. It is customary for Puerto Rican high school prospects to spend their senior years in an American high school, where they will get more attention from big league scouts. Not Carlos. Here’s why
"If I stay in Puerto Rico, scouts will come, and the other players will get exposure." Carlos Correa
I find this amazing. A 17 year old thinking like that about how his actions IMPACT OTHERS and then sacrificing to do the best thing for them. Like Jose Altuve, this is a man of uncommon, deep, inbred goodness and humility.
Here is Carlos in his community, sharing with his people.
"I don’t big league any people out here… It’s about not only being a good baseball player but a good person as well." Carlos Correa
About his public workouts Carlos said, "I don’t do it because I have to do it, I do it because I love to do it…I love interacting with the kids and helping them out."
Keeping it light
Upon his return to Spring training, Carlos said, "We are family, and who doesn’t like to be with family."
On this Astros team, you can just feel the love.