[Originally published in Dominican Times Magazine Issue #1; September 2001]
Mr. A-Rod: born Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez, the man that made history in the game of baseball by becoming the highest-paid player ever. Let’s hear that magic number again-$252 million over ten years, plus escalator clauses and bonuses. if that doesn’t tell you much: it’s twice the amount of the highest-priced player contract in the history of sport. These familiar digits shine in our eyes every time we read them. Some of us just can’t get enough of it. With such a large salary, A-Rod didn’t just become the center of attention in baseball but in the world.
Alex has had quite a busy year off the field as well. Last May he was named one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People Magazine. He’s also seen on print ads of major brands, such as Mennen among others.
A-Rod has the looks of a model. He has the presence that many great athletes possess: the charisma, a combination of size, muscle, confidence and the mastery of his profession that has been nurtured by a life of competition. In fact he says he considers his best feature to be his height. He doesn’t think of himself as perfect, “I wish I were leaner.”
Prior to all the exposure and media attention that arose from the contract A-Rod received last December, the shortstop had already set records in his career. At age 21, he became the third youngest player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit 35 plus homers. He was the fourth youngest player to reach 100th career homer at 23 years and one month of age. Last year while playing for the Seattle Mariners, he produced one of the top seasons ever for a major league shortstop by hitting 40 plus home runs for a third consecutive year.
A-Rod took some measured steps that ultimately led to his latest contract by his agent Scott Boras. What helped A-Rod choose Scott, was that he was factual. Other agents that tried to lure him with limousines and all that good stuff money can buy. “Many of these guys were just baloney, they shot themselves in the foot. I wanted facts not stories,” he said.
Although A-Rod admits that he would play just for the love of the game, money does make his life easier. “Signing out of high school was the biggest thrill of my life, because I could buy my black Cherokee, for $30,000, I thought ‘I’ve never been happier,’ Then I got an $11 million contract for four years- that was really neat too, because I could buy my first house.”
A-Rod was born in New York City, however he spent three of his childhood years in the Dominican Republic. His father deserted the family when he was only ten and his mother, Lourdes, worked two jobs to sustain a family of four.
He works closely with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami during the off-season. He attended the after-school program as a youngster there. He hosts an annual dinner to raise money for the organization. He also hosted the Slam for Kids, an educational program in Seattle, which encourages elementary school students in the areas of academics, physical education and citizenship. He feels a responsibility to give back to these organizations for supporting kids like him.
A-Rod is an admirer of Leonardo Davinci. He is an art collector. He owns works of Chagall, of Miro and of Picasso. “I love art, it brings life and happiness to my house.” As for his love life, sorry ladies, A-Rod is not available. He has been dating schoolteacher Cynthia Scurtis for the past four years.