Before Jenrry Mejia received his first paycheck from playing baseball his mother demanded one thing.
“She always said, ‘If you’re going to get a lot of money or get to the big leagues, never change,’” the Mets closer, who grew up poor in the Dominican Republic, said early Tuesday afternoon.
Mejia, Bobby Abreu, Bartolo Colon, Gonzalez Germen and bullpen coach Ricky Bones shared their upbringings and offered advice to about 50 underprivileged youngsters from the Bronx, East Harlem and Corona inside Citi Field’s press conference room.
The event, called “Latino Leaders,” is expected to be the first in a series featuring the club’s Latino players engaging in Spanish with Latino teenagers from New York City.
“It was good to share with them some little stories,” Abreu said. “My message to them was to just be good and stay good and always be a good person.”
One youngster asked the players what they did with their first paychecks. The question sparked a discussion about maturity and moral values.
“They think that because we’re in the big leagues, that we change, but we stay as the same people and stay the same person,” Mejia said. "Think about your family and wherever you came from. I’m here now, but I didn’t have money; I didn’t have anything. Now that I’m good with money, how can I throw it out?”