SAN DIEGO -- It's been more than a decade, but Yonder Alonso can still remember what it was like when some of baseball's best players visited the Boys & Girls Club of Miami-Dade.
"We would see a lot of big leaguers, former players, guys who lived in the area," Alonso said. "They'd come by to talk to us, players like Rey Ordonez, Luis Castillo, Alex Rodriguez, Marco Scutaro, and Derek Jeter even came by once.
"That's a pretty big deal when you're 11, 12 years old. I told myself then that if I ever made it [to the big leagues], that I would do something like that. I would give back and do what those guys did for me."
This is why Alonso, who came to Florida from Cuba when he was 10, is so insistent on giving back -- not just to his old Boys & Girls Club, but through other charitable endeavors.
"Growing up, and after I got to the United States from Cuba, I spent a lot of time there, playing baseball, playing other sports," Alonso said. "That's why I want to give back. Not just in Miami, but in San Diego."
Alonso has already discussed getting more involved in the community with Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler and his wife, Alexis.
"Maybe more so in the offseason," Alonso said. "I think I'm going to come back in the offseason many times."
Alonso made phone calls and shared time on video chats with members of the Tijuana Little League team and the Eastlake (Chula Vista, Calif.) team that advanced to the Little League World Series. He hosted the Eastlake team at Petco Park before a game recently and will do the same with the Tijuana team this week.
The Padres will hold Hispanic Heritage Night presented by Verizon on Saturday at Petco Park. The night will include a Hispanic-themed celebration, honoring the Padres' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, Mark Kotsay, honoring the Comunidad Award winners and the Tijuana Little League team that advanced to the Little League World Series last month.
National Hispanic Heritage Month -- which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 -- celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
"I think anytime big leaguers get involved with younger kids, you want to give them the sense that it's not that far away," Alonso said. "It may feel like it's far away, but it's not. Time flies by. I want to let them know that I'm just like they were and I worked hard to get where I'm at now."