XM MLB Chat

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ozzie Guillen, Frankie Rodriguez, Jose Contreras follow religion of Santeria--LA Times

CHICAGO -- On a shelf in the office of Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, mixed in among the family photos, the Roberto Clemente bobblehead and the Napoleon Dynamite figurine, are four small but intimidating religious icons.

Guillen's religion is Santeria, a largely misunderstood Afro-Cuba spiritual tradition that incorporates the worship of orisha -- multidimensional beings who represent the forces of nature -- with beliefs of the Yoruba and Bantu people of Africa and elements of Roman Catholicism. And Guillen, born in Venezuela, is one of a growing number of Latin American players, managers and coaches who are followers of the faith.

How many major-leaguers have converted to Santeria is impossible to say because most, aware of the stigma the religion has in the United States, refuse to talk about their faith.

  • But among those who have acknowledged their devotion are Los Angeles Angels pitcher Francisco Rodriguez and Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera -- both Venezuelan -- and the White Sox's Cuban-born pitcher Jose Contreras, all of whom have been All-Stars and won World Series rings. Others, such as Cincinnati Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez and Chicago Cubs infielder Ronny Cedeno, have experimented with it.
It's something beautiful," said Contreras, who became a babalao, or Santeria high priest, before defecting from Cuba in 2002. "And it helps me a lot. It gives me peace and tranquillity, but more than that."

Rodriguez, who points to the heavens after each save, also says Santeria brought him a calmness on the field.

"I'm not trying to do it to help me," he said. "I've been with [Santeria] for a while. I like it. [But] I'm Catholic too. You cannot do anything without God."

Santeria -- the name translates roughly as "the way of the saints" -- has long been derided (think Pedro Cerrano, the character in the movie "Major League" who turns to the gods to get out of a batting slump) and dismissed in Judeo-Christian society as a primitive cult based solely on bloody animal sacrifices and voodoo, both of which it has. But the syncretic religion is much deeper than that, focused primarily on the worship of orisha, or saints, who govern a specific area of life."

Stumbleupon StumbleUpon

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home