Daniel Camargo’s Venezuelan-style passion for baseball brought him to Goshen College from a country fanatic about the sport. Camargo, an exercise science major, is one of 10 first-years on the Goshen College baseball team this season.
You’re from Venezuela. Tell me about the baseball scene there.
Baseball is like a religion there, basically. People show up to baseball and not to church. My family used to get together and watch baseball all the time. Baseball is our lifestyle. In my city, either you play or you used to play. If you want to be somebody, then you should be a baseball player.
When did you start playing?
I started playing baseball when I was five years old. Then I got kicked off of the team, and I didn’t play for a while. I went back when I was 12.
Did you play for your school?
The way it works there, you have to choose between school and baseball. You play for a club team or you get signed for the Winter League. They sign people ages 16 and below. If you get signed, you gotta be all day, every day, 24-7 on the field. The reason I didn’t sign is because I came here (to the U.S.) in 11th grade.
How is baseball culture different in the U.S. compared to Venezuela?
Over there, people go nuts. People go crazy. Just a normal game is like the World Series here. Every time they score a home run, people throw beers and stuff. Even in the U-9, it’s like wow, I’m telling you!
What’s the strangest thing that has happened to you in a game?
You know how the fields are so messed up [in Venezuela]? They have rocks and stuff. Well, somebody hit a ground ball and I was going to catch it and then the ball bounced and hit me in the head. That thing went out of the stadium. And we lost the game because of it!
What is your most prized athletic possession?
I have a belt that one of my coaches gave me before he got killed. He used to be a coach for the Winter League baseball team. He was pretty big. On the side, he would train guys so he could help them get signed. He trained me and he didn’t even charge me anything. He told me, “I’m gonna help you get there.” And I eventually did. I came here as a result. But after I moved, he was hanging out with bad people and Venezuela is a dangerous place. One day, he was mistaken for somebody else and people shot him.
He was a great person. He was the only person who didn’t tell me, “No, [you] couldn’t.” So [that belt] is something that is valuable to me.
Why did you choose Goshen College?
I came here because I had a friend who came here. He played baseball here, too. He told me, “Yo, come to this college. Try out and see what happens.” Here I am.
Do you plan to continue playing baseball after college?
Yeah, absolutely. Hopefully, I can make it professional someday.
Here or in Venezuela?
I don’t care; I don’t care. Well, I guess I would rather play in Venezuela for some reason…but I hope to here, too!
The baseball team will kick off its spring season this weekend at a two-day tournament in Oakland City, Indiana.