Learning the language was like learning the culture, Ramon Caraballo told The Sumter Item through an interpreter in 1989.
Both were hard, the Dominican native told The Item, but he was working at it.
"We'll only be here during the season. It's only a short time," Caraballo told The Item. "It's hard, but we don't have any other choice."
Caraballo played with the single-A Sumter Braves that season and he ended up getting plenty of time to practice his English, getting into seven more seasons, including two with time in the bigs.
Caraballo's career began in 1988, signed by the Braves as an amateur free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.
With the Braves, Caraballo played his first season in 1989, between the rookie Gulf Coast League and Sumter. Between the two, he hit .258, with two home runs and 42 RBI.
He moved to single-A Burlington for 1990, then high-A Durham for 1991. At Burlington, he hit .290.
For 1992, Caraballo played most of the year at AAA Richmond, hitting .281. He also played 24 games at AA Greenville that year, hitting a lead-off home run for Greenville in April.
Caraballo returned to Richmond for 1993, hitting .272 on the year. Then, in September, he debuted in Atlanta. With Atlanta, Caraballo got into six games, but he didn't get an at bat.
For 1994, Caraballo played back at Greenville and Richmond. For 1995, Caraballo was traded to the Cardinals. He then returned to the majors, getting into 34 games.
In late June 1995, Caraballo hit his first major league home run, giving the Cardinals a sixth-inning lead. He hit his second a few days later. Overall, Caraballo hit .202, knocking in three and stealing three.
Caraballo played the rest of the season at AAA Louisville. He didn't play in 1996, then returned for one final season in 197 at AAA Iowa, ending his career.
- Sumter Item, Aug. 5, 1989: Latin players must overcome language barrier