The Wichita Wind Surge's First Manager Talks Life On — And Off — The Field
For this month’s In The Mix, Carla Eckels speaks with Ramon Borrego, who has been around baseball since he was five years old.
Ramon Borrego is the inaugural manager for Wichita’s Wind Surge baseball team.
Born in Venezuela, Borrego has been around baseball since he was five years old, eventually moving to the states in 1996 as a Triple A player for a Minnesota Twins affiliate before becoming a manager in 2009.
KMUW’s Carla Eckels sat down with Borrego to discuss life on — and off — the field.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Carla Eckels: Former [Wind Surge general manager] Jared Forma says you have the uncanny ability to develop great young players while also winning games at the minor league level. How do you go about developing a team?
Ramon Borrego: I think this is a very important thing that comes from my family. My family taught me a lot of good things. It’s not about what you have, it’s about you care about people. You can see players with good talent, but if something is not going well, you know, off the field, you should be getting [the players] in the right direction because, I mean, they're going to be famous. They're going to have money. They’re going to have everything they want when they reach the big leagues. It’s how you handle that.
In life everybody matters. I mean, it's not about I have a lot, but about who I can help and what I can give. So, it's very important when you see that in a player and you're trying to [help], ‘Hey, this is the right way to do it.’ And you feel grateful when you see players make it to the big leagues, the teaching and they’re proud. That's big for me.
Alex Cora, who is the baseball manager for the Boston Red Sox, says he hopes his success paves the way for other Latinos. What about you? Do you see yourself as a trailblazer?
One of the biggest things for me, when I have people working with me, no matter what color, no matter where you're coming from, no matter your environment, for me, Latin American and everybody, everybody's the same and I tried to push and try to help, you know, in the best way I can. So, for me, I mean, it's not about one, it's about everybody.
You’ve got to talk to me about hand signals. I have been fascinated since I was like in second grade, how that works. Can you just tell us a little bit about that? Does it start with you giving hand signals to the other coaches and then to the pitcher, how does that work?
(laughs) It starts with me, it's something you'll learn, you know, like, you know how to do. The third base coach has to learn a lot of things, because as managers, as a coach, everybody just tried to guess your signs. It’s like a code. You have your idea of how you transfer the [hand signals].
What does Ramon like to do off the field, what is it that you enjoy doing?
I am really big family guy. One of the reasons my daughters love me because I love cooking. I just, I think, I'm great. (laughs) I don't know. I love it. I cook everything, everything. Italian, Mediterranean, sushi. You got to go to my Instagram and my Facebook. Search and you’ll see what you're getting, then you tell me, ‘Oh, Ramon, hey, this is unbelievable.’
Even the last two years, I made the turkey for Thanksgiving. You’ve got to see how I make it. I make it a different way. So, I love cooking, and that's basically what I do. When I have time off, I just sit down on the table and then I say, I'm going to make it this. So, I enjoy do it. I really enjoy doing it.
And I think besides baseball… cooking and fishing. I love fishing! I love it, I love it, I love it. Catch the fish and cook right away. Oh, my God.
Have you been able to get out and fish?
No, honestly. You know, so, for us…I basically am the last one (leaving the stadium). [It] could be two in the morning. You probably knock at the door over there and look and I'm going to be there. ‘Hey, Ramon, you there?’ ‘Yeah, come here.’ (laughs)
Why should people come see a Wind Surge game?
First, this beautiful facility. I mean, when you sit right here and you enjoy this. When I come to the field all the time, and then when you have a team that plays for win, they make you more excited. So, you have good reasons to come in and watch the Wind Surge. Good fans, good facility and have one team that wants to win.
And you’ve been winning!
Exactly. And it's still going, and we teach players about starting to go to the next level. Since we start the season we had guys already going to (Triple A). That's what we are working for to just start moving those guys to reach to the majors. That's the biggest thing. That's the biggest thing for us. We keep it competitive, we do all the things, you know, to win games, but our job is to try to move those guys to the next level.
The Wind Surge just started. This is brand new. You're the first in the history of the Wind Surge to be the manager, Ramon.
People are going to remind me. It’s going to be, ‘Hey, he was the first manager of the Wind Surge.’ So that's a good thing.