Yesterday a colleague and I hopped on the 7 train in New York to head out to Citi Field, where the Mets play, and speak for a moment with Andrés Torres, a centerfielder who also happens to have ADHD. A movie is coming out soon, called Gigante, about Torres’ life and ascent to the major leagues, which included a battle with poverty as well as with ADHD. In fact, even after he was diagnosed and prescribed medication, he waited years to take it regularly. That’s when his life came together.
Amazingly, I thought, he told me that his colleagues in the MLB were all supportive of him as he went about his life with ADHD. “They’re OK,” he said. “I am who I am, I respect them,” and in return “they respect me, they support me, and that’s a good thing.” And Torres is a sterling role model for kids with ADHD—or really any psychiatric or learning disorder—telling them, in essence, to accept who they are even as they accept the need for ongoing treatment. And to expect to succeed.
Of course, Torres’ outlook and the tolerant attitudes of his teammates are not par for the course. While on the 7 train I thought of another ballplayer, the former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker. In 2000 he said this to a reporter, about how he could not possibly play for a New York team:
Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark looking like you’re riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing…The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English.
From the clip below, you can tell that Andrés Torres speaks English, but it’s not his first language. However, from meeting him just once, I’m happy to say I’d be just fine sitting next to a role model like him on the 7 train. Here’s to a future where people feel more like that, and less like John Rocker.