I’ve never been interested in sports: playing, watching, reading… I often wished I were more interested, and I frequently marvel at just how many decades a human being could possibly live on this earth while absorbing absolutely nothing about sports of any kind.  

Almost ten years ago, I became a mom. And no thanks in the least bit to me, my son is athletic and loves sports. Above all, he loves playing baseball, and thanks to a recent unit in his 4th grade social studies class, he is also fascinated by the history of the sport, including the religious, ethnic and racial discrimination many players encountered.

Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente

For years now, the translation agency that I own in Evanston, just north of Chicago, has provided translation services for the Major League Baseball Players Association. On Memorial Day, while my staff was enjoying a well-deserved break, we received a rush translation request in advance of Roberto Clemente Day: an essay by Carlos Beltrán of the NY Yankees, How We Play Baseball in Puerto Rico. Were it not for my son, I wouldn’t have know who Roberto Clemente was and about the racial barriers in baseball he helped break down (they say that all you really need to know you learned in Kindergarten, but apparently 4th grade social studies – your own class or your child’s – plays an important role, too).

Despite the holiday and the gorgeous weather we Chicagoans had been impatiently waiting for, I was excited for the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and manage the project – something I don’t get to do anymore – and work to find the right translator to caputure the feel of the essay.  Beltrán is Puerto Rican, and given the personal tone and focus on Puerto Rican culture, I wanted to be sure that the end product felt like it was originally written in the Spanish of Puerto Rico, and not at all like a translation (click here to read it).  

Each translation project has its own unique requirements, and whether we’re translating legal contracts, technical manuals, pizza recipes or essay about baseball in Puerto Rico, we work hard to choose the right translators and editors to ensure the outcome is linguistically and culturally accurate. Unlike other translation projects, however, I got to read this one to my son at bedtime that night…and we both loved it. I may not ever become a sports fan, but we’ll consider this to be a baby step in the right and long-overdue direction.