Tejada unhappy with ESPN story
Shortstop says he, family were misled by sports network
HOUSTON -- Now that Miguel Tejada's correct age has been uncovered, the Astros shortstop has a weight off his mind. But that doesn't mean he appreciates the way it came to light.
Tejada said he believes his family was misled by ESPN, suggesting the network had indicated a camera crew that went to the Dominican Republic was affiliated with the Houston Astros. He also expressed displeasure with the way a recent interview was presented and the way it was conducted recently in Philadelphia.
Tejada says that during that interview, ESPN reporter Tom Farrey surprised him with a copy of his birth certificate while on camera. Tejada reacted by walking out of the interview.
"They called me about two days before the interview and told me it was going to be more about baseball," Tejada said. "When I got there, I thought it was about baseball and they throw me a 98 mph fastball inside."
"E:60," an hour-long investigative show on ESPN, plans to air its report on Tejada on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT.
Tejada said he was particularly disappointed with how his family was treated.
"They went to my father's house," he said. "They got the camera everywhere in my father's house. I don't know what they tried to find. They interviewed my father, and they interviewed people from my neighborhood and everything. They [ate] in my father's house. They make my sister cook for them. That's why I feel mad. ... I had an enemy inside of my father's house, and my family treats you nice. And look at what they did to me. My family is really mad right now."
ESPN spokesperson Mac Nwulu on Monday, told of Tejada's reaction, defended the network's approach to the overall package.
"We've been working on this story for several months," Nwulu said. "Throughout the process, and to all interview subjects, we've represented that we're working on a larger story about Miguel Tejada, which is exactly what the 'E:60' piece is. We are comfortable that all our questions and practices were appropriate in the pursuit of this story."
The document presented in the interview revealed the shortstop was born on May 25, 1974, not May 25, 1976, as listed in the Astros media guide. He is 33, not 31. Tejada revealed his age to club officials and the local media soon after the interview. The wrong birth date has been listed for Tejada in baseball circles since he signed with Oakland in 1993; all of his personal legal documents have his correct age.
Tejada said he changed his age as a teenager from 19 to 17 to give him a better chance at pursuing his dream as a professional baseball player.
"When they signed me back in '93, I was a young kid," Tejada said. "I really wanted to sign with professional baseball because I thought that was the only way I thought I could help my family. That's the way that everybody did it back in those days. My coach told me that's how we are going to do it, and I followed him."
Before Major League Baseball began verifying dates of birth and other information, it was not uncommon for some players from Latin America to give a younger age.
"My age has nothing to do with what I do on the field," he said. "In Houston and the Orioles and Oakland, they just worry about what I do on the field, how I play on the field. I don't want to bring it up because I don't think the team is really paying attention to that. It's not like I did it when I was a free agent. I did it a long time ago. It's not even on my mind every day. What I've got on my mind is play baseball and winning games. Enjoy baseball."
Houston general manager Ed Wade said Tejada's age revelation "has no effect on our club."
"I don't think there is any kind of short-term impact on our club, and I don't foresee any long-term impact," Wade said. "He's still a premium player. We are happy to have him. He has a couple years left on his deal. I would like to see him play a lot longer than that in our uniform."
Tejada's contract with the Astros expires at the end of the 2009 season.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.