(Reuters) - Alex Cora is the first Puerto Rican manager to reach a World Series but no matter what he achieves in the sport, he is always thinking about his homeland as he proved when he took a hands-on approach in the relief efforts after Hurricane Maria.
Cora, whose Boston Red Sox will host the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series opener on Tuesday, was hired by the MLB team last October, just one month after deadly Hurricane Maria carved a path of destruction through the U.S. territory.
But before 43-year-old rookie manager steered the Red Sox to the best record in Major League Baseball this year, he led his new team off the field by organizing a relief effort that sent supplies to the island.
“We know what happened last year. It was a tough one. And Maria kicked our ass, you know. As a country, we’ve done an outstanding job fighting. We’re standing up on our own two feet,” Cora told reporters on Monday.
“I know there’s a lot of people back home they’re proud of me, of what I’ve done throughout the year. But I’m proud of them. We actually — it’s almost back to normal.”
Cora was so determined to help Puerto Rico’s relief efforts that while negotiating his contract with the Red Sox a year ago, he requested the team supply aid to his home country.
The Red Sox obliged and in January the city’s mayor, team president, members of the front office and several players joined Cora on a flight to Puerto Rico.
Cora, the first member of a minority to manage the Red Sox, said he is proud to be representing Puerto Ricans from all over the world as he gets set to step onto baseball’s biggest stage.
And while he appreciates all the feedback he has received for his off-the-field efforts, Cora is most happy that Puerto Ricans have a rooting interest on the field when it comes to MLB’s best-of-seven showcase.
“It’s been great the last month all the feedback. I’m very happy that whenever the Red Sox win and when (Boston’s Puerto Rican catcher Christian Vazquez) plays great ... there’s something that they have for them to enjoy,” said Cora.
“It should be fun the next week, week and a half, whatever it is. And looking forward to getting back home after the World Series.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar