HELENA – It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Big things come in small packages.
There are dozens of sayings regarding size and Jose Gomez has heard them all. The Helena Brewers outfielder stands at 5 feet, 3 inches tall, but don’t tell him that size matters.
“I feel like when I come out here I have no limits. If you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to go out there and show you I can do it,” said Gomez.
Baseball players hear a lot of heckling during the summer months, particularly on the road. Gomez is an easy target for opposing fans, but he’s often the first one to join in on the joke.
“You just have to laugh. I know I’m not one of the tallest guys out here. I may be the shortest guy out here,” laughed Gomez, “so I make the best out of it and enjoy every moment I can.”
“Jose is awesome,” said teammate Chad McLanahan, who towers above Gomez at 6-foot-5. “He’s a great player first off, and we always go to these other places and all the fans always yell at him about his height and he goes out there and plays really well. He can hit home runs and we’re all behind him. When he comes into the dugout we’re happy to see him succeed. He’s a great guy.”
Gomez is also very proud of his heritage. Born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, he represents his family, friends and country every time he takes the field. Selected in the 39th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft, Gomez continues to work on improvement as he chases dreams of climbing the minor league ladder.
The Helena Brewers and Pioneer League are a long way from home for Gomez, who quickly noticed significant differences in the game between the United States and Cuba.
“I left (Cuba) when I was 7 (years old), and I remember a lot of things were different. We barely had any equipment to practice or play. My dad played some ball, so he had some baseballs saved and I think two gloves. I remember my grandfather made a bat on his own,” said Gomez, his voice softening. “It’s very different from here. Here we have everything to practice, but over there it’s whatever you can find.
“I try not to take anything for granted. I feel blessed to be where I’m at.”
Gomez was the focal point of one of the best moments of the summer. During a road game against Missoula, the outfielder connected on a home run, one of four jacks in the early season. As he prepared to round third base, manager Nestor Corredor joined the fun, forcing Gomez to leap well into the air for a high five attempt, but the good-natured joke continued at home plate when teammates greeted the home run on their knees.
Smiling and laughing at the center of it all was Gomez, who has proven to be a quality hitter for Corredor’s Brewers. He has also spent numerous innings as a first base coach for the Helena batters, allowing him to remain involved in the game at all times.
“I enjoy it a lot,” he said. “When I’m not in the lineup I try to help out my teammates as much as possible, and I feel like standing at first base I have a chance to help them out and help them get better, as well. I enjoy it and enjoy being part of the game.”
It’s a game Gomez has dedicated nearly his entire life to, overcoming challenges in Cuba, stature and the minor leagues. His commitment brings up another well-known saying: to measure the man, just measure his heart.