PPNA Happenings

Happenings, history and news of the Prospect Park Neighborhood and Ypsilanti

A Future Slider?

Posted by ppna on March 24, 2009

Here is a story from The Register Herald in West Virginia about a possible player for the Midwest Sliders. Hopefully everyone will get out to support Cardona and the other players from the Sliders this coming summer.

Cardona appreciates life, baseball

Upper Deck trainee has chance at turning pro
By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor

Victor Cardona points to the scars that cover his upper body, reminders of a day he would rather forget, but can’t.

“This happened in 2003, November 5,” he says in his low, Puerto Rican accent.

The scars are bullet wounds, suffered while Cardona was in line at a doctor’s office with his girlfriend while he was a student at Laredo (Texas) Community College.

“(The shooter) came up to me and said, ‘I want to kill you,’” Cardona said. “I thought he was joking.”

Cardona found out this was no joke. The shooter left momentarily, but soon returned and shot Cardona numerous times.

He was forced to spend five days in the hospital. Thankfully, he came through. And he learned to appreciate every day and every thing.

That includes the opportunity to play professional baseball.

Cardona will get that chance in May, when he travels to Ypsilanti, Mich., to try out for the Midwest Sliders of the independent Frontier League. Cardona returned to his native Puerto Rico last month, but will return to Beckley to continue training for his opportunity.

He has been working with former WVU Tech baseball coach Tim Epling at Upper Deck Training Center since last year. Actually, the two met before that, while Epling was on a recruiting trip.

“We had the gun on him and he was throwing about 83, 84 (miles per hour),” Epling recalled. “Then all of a sudden I told him to do some things, and the next thing you know, Victor’s throwing 85, 86, just within a couple of minutes.

“He saw a change in this short amount of time, and he wanted to come play for me.”

So Cardona enrolled at Tech and continued his baseball career. Among his highlights was pitching in an exhibition game against the West Virginia Power, at the time a Class A team in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.

He went back to Puerto Rico after the season, but it wasn’t long before he was back in contact with Epling.

“He called me up and said, ‘Coach, I need to come back because I need you to train me,’” Epling said. “’I want to sign a pro contract.’”

Cardona returned to the Mountain State to begin work on realizing his dream. He developed a changeup and had to increase his velocity.

“When I first came here I did not throw a changeup,” the 6-foot-1, 200-pound right-hander said. “Now my changeup is good.”

His fastball isn’t bad, either. Through his hard work, Cardona is back in the 92-mph range.

Now he’s about to take the next step toward fulfilling his dream of being paid to play baseball. There is, of course, a sense of urgency to his quest. The shooting, while opening Cardona’s eyes to the more important parts of life, robbed him of precious time.

“I couldn’t play baseball for three years,” said Cardona, now 26.

“Victor has done everything you could ask him to do, (but) his age is against him right now,” Epling said. “He’s got to get it done now.”

Cardona’s example is one that exemplifies the reason for the center’s existence.

“That’s what we’re all about,” Epling said. “Whether a kid wants to go to the high school level … then a high school kid wants to go to college, and a college kid wants to go to the pros. That’s always a dream. The great thing right now is there is so much opportunity for kids who want to work hard. I mean, it’s not easy. But if they do certain things, I believe there is more opportunity out there today.”

Opportunity. That’s all Cardona wants.

He certainly is thankful to Epling for all he has done. Moreso, he’s thankful to be alive.

“I appreciate everything.”

— E-mail: gfauber@



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