May 19, 2006

Baseball and Cultural Identity Important to Barons Betech

By John Philip Wyllie

According to his coach, Vince Gervais, Bonita Vista’s Moses Betech might just be the best defensive first baseman in the county. Like a giant vacuum cleaner, he scoops up anything that comes near him at first base and he frequently converts errant throws into outs. Betech is also contributing at the plate where he is hitting about .320 and at times demonstrating his power. These however, are not Betech’s biggest contributions.

“What makes him unique is his calm leadership and presence,” Gervais explained. “There is a lot of emotion in high school baseball and Moses is always the person that stays on an even keel and brings everybody back to the center. I would hope that he would be the person coming up with two outs with the winning run on third base, because he would be calm enough to not get caught up in the emotion.”

Late last month with Betech in the lineup the Barons were on a tear raking up victory after victory, but after he departed for an overseas trip, the team slid to a mediocre 3-3. The trip was one that Betech, a Mexican-Jewish-American, felt that he had to take.

“I spent a week in Poland and a week in Israel on what they call the “March of the Living.” It was an educational trip. We learned more about the Holocaust and visited several concentration camps. At first, I was second-guessing my plans because I knew that I would miss some important games. But once I got over there I was glad that I did it. I thought it was really important to go.”

Both of Betech’s parents were born in Mexico and Spanish is the primary language in his home. Much of his extended family remains there and he has grown up on both sides of the border. His parents have always stressed the importance of maintaining ones cultural identity. As a result, he has been involved along with many of his classmates in a Mexican-Jewish organization called. K.E.N. Up until last year, Betech worked as a K.E.N. counselor and planned cultural activities for younger Mexican-Jewish students.

At this point, Betech’s focus is on baseball and reaching the CIF playoffs. With a record of 17-10 the Barons have a good shot at getting there. He will be graduating in June and then heading off to college. He has already been accepted at SDSU, but at this point has made no final decision.

“He would really have to work hard over the summer to make SDSU’s team, but he could definitely play for a small college,” Gervais said. “I could see him playing at a place like Biola or Occidental and he could play at Southwestern without question, but he is very focused on his education. I think he wants to get started on a four year degree right away.”

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