By John Philip Wyllie
Several years ago, while still in college, Victor Roldan received a rare opportunity.
“I was living in Tampa and a friend of mine got me a chance to work in the New York Yankees clubhouse for a month and a half during spring training. It was very exciting and I got to meet all the players.”
During that spring, Roldan was particularly impressed with Yankees captain, Alex Rodriguez. Roldan saw how hard Rodriguez worked and it inspired him to seek a professional career of his own. Overlooked a couple of years later in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, Roldan was beginning to resign himself to moving on. But then he got a call telling him that the Surf Dawgs needed a third baseman.
“I didn’t think I was going to play again, but that phone call instantly changed my mind. Playing here has been one of the best experiences of my life.”
After winning last year’s inaugural Golden League baseball championship the San Diego Surf Dawgs have struggled this season to regain their winning form. Slightly below .500 with just a week left on the schedule, the Surf Dawgs will finish their second season in the middle of the pack. Despite that disappointment, there have been some solid individual performances. The Puerto Rican-born Roldan has turned in more than his fair share of sterling plays at third base.
“Victor works very hard. He has only made six errors all year. He is very tough mentally and he is improving every day,” according to former Padres All-Star catcher and current Surf Dawgs manager, Terry Kennedy. “Victor is a little too aggressive at the plate, but he knows what his weaknesses are and he works at them. He’s improving every day at the plate and in the field. I put him in there because I know he is going to knock everything down that is hit his way. He has also had some big hits for us and he is hard to strike out. I am glad that I signed him.”
With the season nearing its end, Roldan, a 23-year old rookie, will soon return to his home in Florida where he will complete the three classes he needs for a degree from Embry-Riddle University. Hoping to one day get picked up by one of the Major League clubs, he expects to return to the Surf Dawgs next year for some additional seasoning.
“This has been a lot different than playing college ball and so far I am enjoying it. I started off slow. My timing was off, but as the season went on I felt more comfortable. I am going to work hard in the off season and play independent ball one more year and then take it from there,” Roldan said.
Roldan has benefited a lot this season from the tips he has picked up from Surf Dawgs hitting coach, Steve Ontiveros and he has forged a special bond with teammate Tony Garcia, who plays beside him at shortstop.
“Tony is older and he has been playing a lot longer than I have, so he has helped me a lot. Sometimes when I am out of position he will let me know. He is always willing to share his knowledge. He helps me out all the time.”
Both Roldan and Garcia would love to one day join Rodriguez in the big leagues, but they know they face long odds in fulfilling that dream. For now, they have to be content with being big fish in a little pool.