In a country with more than four hundred players in the Major Leagues it seems easy to deduce that throughout the national territory there are many populations where discipline is easily nested. But associating the development of the activity with a hamlet of less than three thousand inhabitants, on the shores of a coast and therefore withdrawn from a main road, is not usual.
It is there where La Sabana exposes its virtues as the cradle of baseball in the state of La Guaira and positions itself as the most fertile geographic space in recent years for the export of talent, as well as San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.
The town, located three hours from Caracas, is one of the seven towns that make up the Caruao parish within the central coastline, and to access it there are two ways: from the old Vacation City Los Caracas, along the coast road passing the towns of Quebrada Seca, Osma, Oritapo, and Todosana. Or from Caracas to Caucagua towards Barlovento, following Higuerote and Carenero on the road to the crossroads of the French Port, heading to Chirimena and Chuspa.
Like at home
Expectations during the tour to see the place where baseball is played morning, afternoon and night are high; and at the end of the last climb after leaving behind the identification sign of the area everything becomes familiar.
It is enough to whisper the surnames "Acuña", "Escobar", "Blanco", among others, so that any of the inhabitants can guide you to them, or to the Óscar Santiago Escobar stadium, where the more than 50 professional baseball players trained by the place, among which seven major leagues stand out, including the National League Rookie of the Year in 2018 and the second Venezuelan player to accumulate thirty home runs and the same number of stolen bases in the same season, Ronald Acuña Jr.
The Atlanta Braves outfielder has been faithful to his baseball lineage and that's why he identified himself as “El de La Sabana” during the MLB player weekend last week. A phrase that has an old but prominent date, whose interrelationships make, for many, the largest number of professional players per square meter for any place in Venezuela.
"La Sabana has ceased to be an unknown town since Ronald is in the Major Leagues," exclaimed Kenny Escobar, Kelvim's brother, with glee. “That fills us with pride. That boy has exalted his roots and for us he is the maximum ”.
It all started with Óscar Santiago Escobar, José's father (MLB 1991) and Óscar júnior, who founded a baseball team in 1963 with the name of San José de La Sabana. José, currently part of the Academia Escobar staff, is the father of Elvis and Edwin, both pitchers for Cardenales de Lara, the last of them in the league at 14-15 ', is the uncle of Kelvim (MLB 97-09), Alcides (MLB 08 -18 '), and Vicente Campos (MLB 16'). Also from Acuña Jr., whose bond with the Escobars is given by his paternal grandmother, Ronald's father and Oscar's daughter, Justina Blanco.
As it is notorious, the genealogical leafiness of the families makes it almost impossible to establish a number of members, although in the December meetings it is easier to demarcate due to the level of enjoyment of its terroir and the hospitality attached to its humble streets.
"Escobar there are many. There are some who have the last name and identify more quickly, but others who do not, although we are familiar. But they are like twenty-somethings ”, confessed José, the first professional and second bigleaguer of the family, after Ángel (1988). “My dad even has great-grandchildren and many more players can come from there. Almost all of us here are families, even if they do not carry the Escobar as such. I have cousins with the last name Campos, Acuña, Blanco. We are a crowd. "
In fact, a more extensive investigation with clarification of the parties involved allowed us to deduce that the remembered Carlos “Café” Martínez and his sons, José and Teodoro, have blood ties to the Escobars, and hence their dealings as cousin-brothers. The mother of the first professional Martinez carried the well-known last name and gave rise to the settlement in the town, without being the native that appears in the identity records.
The aforementioned blood display justifies the sports culture of the region, where even the youngest always has a stake in hand to simulate a bat and anyone tries to make a ball out of a piece of paper. There are no hidden secrets in La Sabana, only real examples of self-improvement, effort and the desire to give continuity to the practice of baseball to raise the number of stars with a "sabanero stamp".
“In this town, all boys are born with a ball in hand. Everyone wants to be a baseball player. They leave the stadium here and play on the street and spend all day in it, "said José with a smile of satisfaction at what he has before his eyes. The family continues to grow and roots to La Sabana even more.
The former player recalled that the number of exports to date was even higher in previous years if the conditions for signing players that are currently exhibited existed, so it has become a family mission to make this a reality.
From the savanna census that exists today, many players have signed with academies outside Caruao and if you want to make La Sabana a registered factory of successful players you have to train them there, so that future generations can have the support they need and get excited about the admirable, but nothing simple work.
“There are many who have signed but not all have arrived. There are 56 players from here who have won a major league contract, a town with four streets, thank God we can now give better support to all with the help of those who have already had the experience of playing in the show, "he added. José, who considers La Sabana as the place where dreams are born and come true, also where every day the neighbors in front of the television link the extra-bases and defensive plays of Acuña Jr. to celebrate in December to the sound of the drums and accompanied by Fireworks.
The Escobar Academy prepares the relay
"People were waiting for this a long time ago," former Cleveland Indians big league Jose Escobar blurted out when asked about the activities of the Escobar Baseball Academy, founded on October 13, 2015, as part of the Family interest in following up on the relay generation and instructing them on the difficult path to professionalization.
For four calendars, children between 12 and 16 years old from the area and other states of the country have come to Oscar Santiago Escobar early for a training routine with the Sabanero staff, headed by Ronald Acuña father and directed by John Al Hay, accompanied by Rudy Bolívar (physical trainer), Dionisio Díaz (pitching coach), Carlos Suárez, Ricardo Laya. All with experience in ball.
“We always talk to them. We tell you that baseball is not just running and hitting. You have to instill in him a lot of things, the discipline, the perseverance, the hard work, so that they are good players on and off the field, ”said Elvis and Edwin's father, who also served as coach of the Cardinals of La Lara in the LVBP for over 30 seasons.