By Kacie McMahon
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
His baseball skills began as a child in the streets of Houston, Texas but Kevin “Gonzo” Gonzalez has athleticism in his blood.
Gonzalez’ father, Armando, played in Cuba for the National Baseball Team before coming to the United States five years before Kevin’s birth. However, his father never forced the sport on him.
“He wanted me to decide what I wanted to do,” Gonzalez said. “I first started in Karate and I got kind of tired of it.”
Gonzalez eventually developed a passion for baseball and his father has been his backbone ever since. The catcher even spent time playing summer ball in Cuba while visiting his older half-brother Randy. Playing there was a completely different experience, especially when you have cows for company in the outfield
“The fields here are like big league parks compared to [the fields in Cuba] and some of them don’t even have fences,” Gonzalez said. “And nobody has any gloves, you play your position and you just drop your glove in between innings and go to the dugout and the next player picks it up.”
Gonzalez also played on one of Houston’s select team, the Houston Heat. He enjoyed the laid back, summer-league baseball lifestyle and had a difficult time transitioning into Division I play when he was eventually recruited by Texas A&M.
“I came here and there was a lot of stuff I had to learn that you don’t really pick up when you’re playing on the weekends and just showing up and going,” Gonzalez said.
Getting the starting catching position was difficult at first because Gonzalez saw himself as more of a defensive player. He earned the job his sophomore season and has had the support of the pitching staff and coaches ever since.
“He’s the kind of guy, as a pitcher, that I want to throw to,” Head Coach Rob Childress said. “He’s going to make you look good and feel good on the mound the way he receives and holds pitches for you. All of our pitchers have such great confidence in him.”
His teammates have showed their support the previous two seasons by voting him the Wally Moon Award for most-improved player in 2008 and the team’s MVP in 2009.
Now in his red-shirt junior season as an Aggie, Gonzalez is hitting .308 with 13 runs, 3 homeruns and 16 RBI.
As a leader on the team, Gonzalez relates to the underclassmen’s struggles and tries to help them keep their heads up.
“I know what it’s like being a new guy coming in,” Gonzalez said. “I know what it’s like going through the grind of sitting and not getting a starting role. I try to pick them up, help them out and tell them to just keep their shoulders high.”
The Aggies have suffered some tough losses recently in conference play but Gonzalez is optimistic of the rest of the season as long as the team sticks together.
“I feel that if we just keep grinding and keep picking each other up and having faith, we’re going to get it done,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve got to learn offensively to take charge. I feel like our hitters are becoming more comfortable in the box and the more that we feel comfortable the more we are going to be able to come and execute in big situations.”
Gonzalez’s dream was never to play professional ball because he didn’t want to get his hopes up, but is open to life’s possibilities.
“If it happens, it happens. My big thing is I just want to get an education and be able to support my family down the long run,” Gonzalez said.
When he’s not playing ball, Gonzalez is a laid back and spontaneous person who never really has a set plan. He’s not an avid sports watcher and cannot wait for the NBA playoffs to end. Thankfully, his roommate will sometimes agree to turn on the baseball channel instead.
Graduating next December, Gonzalez is not ready for it all to come to an end.
“I love this, I’m never going to get this again,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not just about baseball, it’s about you growing as a man and being a person and [the coaching staff] is always there to support you. Here, it’s where you build camaraderie with your teammates, coaches and friends.”