New York Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano got his name from his father, who admired how Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.
On Nov. 13, 2012, Cano got another layer to identity: American citizen.
Early Life in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic:
Robinson Jose Cano Mercedes was born Oct. 22, 1982 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, the birthplace of so many outstanding baseball players, close to 100 of them making it to the majors. The city is often called “The Cradle of Shortstops” because so many of them have come out of this city of about 200,000 people
His father, Jose Cano, had played briefly with the Houston Astros as pitcher in the 1980s and quickly introduced his son to the game. Cano spent most of this childhood in the Dominican Republic, though he spent several years in New Jersey and played baseball at Barringer High School for one season. As a teen, he played for the Estrellas Orientales in the Dominican Winter League.
Cano has said his father taught him not to take his mistakes too hard: “He said just keep your head up and keep playing.”
The Yankees Sign Him, New York Embraces Him:
The Yankees signed Cano out of high school in 2001 and gave him a $100,000 bonus. By 2003, he had worked his way from Class A to Triple-A and was regarded the top prospect in the New York organization. Cano began the 2005 season with Columbus and was called up by the Yankees in May and has ranked among the top American League infielders since.
By the end of the 2012 season, he had been selected to four AL All-Star teams, won four Silver Slugger awards, two Golden Gloves and helped lead the Yankees to a world championship in 2009. He also won the 2011 Home Run Derby.
His career batting average, through eight seasons, is .308 with 177 home runs and 715 RBI, hitting a career-high 33 homers and 94 RBI in 2012. He was a finalist for the league’s most valuable player award.
In October 2012, the Yankees signed him to a one-year contract worth $15 million for the 2013 season. Many expect him to test free agency after that, though he is exceptionally popular in New York, where immigrants and Dominicans are uncommonly appreciated.
Becoming a U.S. Citizen and Telling the World:
Cano wears No. 24, which is Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 transposed. His charity foundation, called RC24, “exists to provide a lasting and sustainably positive contribution to our communities for generations to come,” according to its website. Cano’s charity work has gone to hospitals, the Red Cross and cancer patients in New York and underprivileged children in his Dominican homeland, among other causes. He has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a major league player for humanitarian service.
After passing the test and taking his citizenship oath, Cano tweeted this message with a smiling photo of himself holding a U.S. flag: Very proud day for me, I just became a US citizen, God bless America! — Robinson Cano (@RobinsonCano) November 13, 2012.