M's Star Robinson Canó (named after the legendary Jackie Robinson) spoke to Where Seattle from his home in the Dominican Republic just before baseball season got into full swing.
Did you always want to be a professional baseball player?
My dad, José Canó, played baseball for years and I tried other sports, but I grew up around baseball. On top of that, I am a proud native of the Dominican Republic and my hometown, San Pedro De Macorís, is home to hundreds of professional baseball players, including legends like Sammy Sosa.
What was your path to the Major League like?
After I graduated from high school, I signed with the New York Yankees in 2001 but if you follow baseball, you know that drafted players rarely go straight to the majors. I put the hard work in and played in the minor leagues until 2005, when I was called up by the Yankees. We had an incredibly talented and dedicated roster and had a lot of success over those years, even winning the 2009 World Series. In 2014, I signed with the Seattle Mariners and I haven’t looked back—it’s been a blessing to compete for the organization, and I’m excited for what the 2018 season has to come.
Which players (past or present) do you admire most?
There are so many players that I admire, but my fellow Dominican Sammy Sosa is one that I watched as I came up in the sport and will always be one of my favorite players. I learned a lot from my dad as well, and he still helps me train.
What do you like about playing for Seattle?
I will always be a proud Dominican, but I love Seattle; it's my second home and has so much to offer. Seattle is such a unique place. It has been incredibly welcoming to me and I love the culture, the atmosphere and especially the energy our fans bring to Safeco Field.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Seattle?
I have been in Seattle since 2014, and I still love exploring the city. My favorite place to go is Safeco Field, but I also enjoy Pike Place Market (I love fresh seafood), shopping in Bellevue and downtown Seattle and the Space Needle. My two favorite restaurants are Metropolitan Grill and Aqua by El Gaucho.
The sense of community in this city is fantastic. I love working with the Boys and Girls Club of Seattle—we have hosted an annual summer baseball clinic for the Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) program there to bring the sport I love to those who may not otherwise be able to play.
Tell us about your RC22 Foundation.
I started RC22 in 2011 to help underprivileged children and families gain access to education, better medical and health options, and athletic opportunities. I've been very blessed to be in a position to help more people in need through my foundation. We built the RC22 Dream School in my hometown of San Pedro De Macorís and developed programs and partnerships with many organizations in Seattle.
My first fundraiser, CANOCHE, held in Seattle in 2015 helped to fund programs at the Boys and Girls Club – Rainier Vista, Seattle Children’s, Odessa Brown Clinic and City Year Seattle. It also helped to open the doors to the RC22 Dream School. I am so excited to host the next CANOCHE on May 14 in Seattle. Funds raised will help kick off the RC22 Foundation’s scholarship program for underserved students in Seattle. We expect the night to be full of fun and surprises, like in 2015. Great food, guests, entertainment and special auction items will be featured again to support youth and families in Seattle and in the Dominican Republic.