During one recent game a lanky batter with long hair, mustache, and shades made his usual plate appearance. It seems that everyone from the sparse crowd knows this player like he is a movie star.
That lanky batter is literally a movie star and a popular one indeed. Richard Gomez later reached first base on a hit, a usual occurrence in Baseball Philippines Series 3 action.
Known for his movies with the likes of Sharon Cuneta, Dawn Zulueta, and Regine Velasquez, comedy roles in “Palibhasa Lalake” and “Lagot ka Isusumbong Kita!”, and in two recent television series “Captain Barbell” (as the evil Viel Villain) and “Marimar” (as Renato Santibanez), Gomez is slowly aiming to be a star too, this time on the baseball field for the Cebu Dolphins.
A former fencer who won gold in the 2002 Busan Asian Games, as well as an avid golfer, ‘Goma’, as he is also known, has currently shown some impressive numbers for the Dolphins, with a batting average of .400 (six hits in 15 at-bats) along with two runs batted in and eight runs scored in eight games in Series 3.
“In all of my games (in Series 3), isang game pa lang na hindi ako nakaka-hit,” Gomez said, after getting three hits, three runs, and an rbi in Cebu’s 12-7 trouncing of the Antipolo Pilgrims last June 14. “The rest, nakaka-hit siguro ako ng isa.”
This improvement is a far cry from his rough baptism in Series 2 last year. In those days, he usually would end up swinging at nothing but air while setting a dubious reputation as one of the worst hitters in the league.
While Gomez watches Major League Baseball games on television, an invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in last year’s debut run of the league made the 42-year old celebrity think of giving the sport a shot.
“I went to Chito (Loyzaga) and sabi ko sa kanya, maybe I should give baseball a try since retired na din naman ako sa national fencing team,” Gomez recalled.
By the time Series 2 rolled on, Gomez joined the Dolphins of skipper Isaac “Saki” Bacarisas. As a neophyte to the sport, he quickly had his birth pains by posting a measly .154 batting average with two rbi’s and was tied for second to Dumaguete’s Darwin dela Calzada with ten strikeouts, two behind then-Marikina Shoemaker Matt Laurel.
Although he had a notable double in the finals and a championship to boot, he still decided to better his game after seeing his awful statistics by participating in regular workouts with the national baseball team prior to the start of the new season.
“When I saw the statistics, I decided to give some time to improve on my game,” Gomez remembered. “I always go here (Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium) to train with the national team. Tinutulungan ako ni (RP team coach) Ricardo Jimenez while coach Saki helped me with my hitting. Nakita ko yung mga faults at mistakes.”
Despite his development, Gomez admits that he needs to work on other aspects of his game, especially on defense where he is tasked to play as their rightfielder.
“Kailangan ko pang iimprove yung (pagtapat ng) mga ground balls,” he explained. “Minsan hindi rin predictable ang bounce ng bola, although madali na rin para sa akin ang pagcatch ng flyballs.”
While venturing on the sport was a tough task, the multiple Best Actor winner disputes that even as both baseball and showbiz on a different perspective is difficult, it still has the same fulfillment whenever success comes.
“Pareho lang din mahirap ang acting and playing baseball in a different way,” described Gomez. “But when I make a hit in baseball, there’s a fulfillment for me just like in acting; if the movie is successful and when I win awards.”
Now that he has been contributing to the team, ‘Goma’ and his fellow Dolphins teammates hope that they can deliver another championship following their Series 2 conquest in December.
“Siyempre naman masarap ang feeling na maging part ng champion team. It would be nice to defend it and win it again.”
by: Jonas Terrado