Family, Time in Mexico Shaping Gonzalez’s Career
When Kenosha Kingfish pitching coach Gonzalo Gonzalez did not get selected in the MLB Draft following his senior season at Pittsburg State University, a San Diego Padres scout found him a spot in the Northern League of Mexico, an experience that he said changed his outlook on coaching and life.
“As a baseball player, it showed me that I wasn’t working hard enough. Whatever I thought hard work was, I was nowhere near it. I saw 15 and 16 year-old kids getting after it every day because they had no choice. That was their way out.
“And that impacted me in my personal life because, if I wanted to be the coach I felt like I could be in the future, I knew that I needed to grow, learn, ask questions and keep an open mind to understand the different philosophies that came with pitching and overall coaching of the game,” Gonzalez said.
And those are big words from someone who comes from a line of hard workers. His parents left everything behind in their native country of Mexico after his father finished playing in the same League of Northern Mexico and moved to the San Diego area, making Gonzalo and his brother first-generation Mexican-Americans.
“My dad’s my motivation for everything. He came to this country with nothing, and he worked his butt off to provide for my brother and I and provide a good life. He has been working now as a day laborer for 34 years. He just grinds it out because he knows that this is a place where, if you want to get ahead in life, it’s on your own two feet,” Gonzalez said.
On the other hand, Gonzalez’s mother had a stable job with the Mexican government, and though she did not speak any English, she left the job behind to join her husband in the United States. Now after over 20 years of cleaning homes in here, she is back in school earning her college degree.
Most of Gonzalez’s family still lives in Mexico, something that made his time with the Marineros de Ensada special to him.
“Being able to go down there and be a part of that league was very special because it was just across the border where all of my family could come and watch me play,” Gonzalez said.
Among the family members that got to see Gonzalez play was his father, who had not been able to attend any of his son’s games since high school due to bouts with cancer.
“When he came to watch me play for the first time in five years, that was amazing for him to do it. And for my mom to do it and for my brother to do it where our roots are was even more incredible,” Gonzalez said.
In addition to his year playing in Mexico, Gonzalez credits his successes as both a player and a coach – he is the pitching and strength and conditioning coach at Carthage College and has aspirations of being a head coach someday – to his father.
“For me to see that growing up and for my brother to see growing up how much effort he put towards giving us a good life, it was an inspiration for us to never give up,” Gonzalez said. “That’s why I am where I am.”
Now Gonzalez is working tirelessly with the Kenosha pitching staff, but that should not be a surprise after the examples his family set for him and his experiences.