When Carlos Villoria was playing baseball for the University of Maine at Presque Isle, he didn’t know he’d someday work in Major League Baseball, he just knew he always wanted the sport to be part of his life.
Villoria, 33, works for the Boston Red Sox organization in the Media Relations department, and one of his main responsibilities is to translate for Spanish-speaking players like Franchy Cordero, Rafael Devers, and Brayan Bello during reporter interviews. The 2013 UMPI alum admits the work is fast-paced and keeps him on his toes, but he said his time at UMPI and work with people like faculty member Dr. Jacqui Lowman really prepared him for the experience.
“One of the main things I learned from Dr. J. is that being a good communicator is about getting your message across as clearly as possible,” he said. “That’s one of the things I try to do every time I translate. It’s hard; sometimes there are players who will give a long answer and you have to capture the message. But I enjoy it a lot–the culture, Fenway, everything.”
A Venezuela native, Villoria began his college career majoring in journalism at Santa Maria University, but his long-time dream of playing professional baseball sent him in a different direction. His first step was to try to play college ball in the U.S.
“I sent videos of me playing to several schools and UMPI showed interest,” he recalled. “After I talked to Coach Leo Saucier, and realized I was eligible for an international scholarship, it was a no-brainer. My main focus was to learn the language and try to get better at it. That’s why I decided to be an English major and Professional Communication and Journalism concentration. That was the perfect fit for me.”
Villoria started at UMPI in 2011 and played with UMPI for three years. He credits a lot of his success to Coach Saucier and Dr. Lowman, Professor of Professional Communication and Journalism.
“Coach Saucier was obviously a big influence,” he said. “He treated me like a son. When I got there, I didn’t know anybody. It was a shock for me coming from 90 degrees Venezuela. I got to develop great relationships and I was so happy to be able to play baseball.”
Villoria said Coach Saucier and his teammates helped him learn a lot about leadership, teamwork, and how to overcome failure. During his time with the Owls Baseball team, Villoria broke the school record for single season hits, doubles, and batting average.
Villoria also received support on the academic side as he honed his English-speaking and writing skills: “Dr. J was my tutor—she was always there for me, pushing me every day,” he said. “She had time to speak with me after every writing assignment and show me how to do things. She’s the reason why I was successful at UMPI and able to graduate. She was always looking out for me. She and her service dog Saint. They were a huge influence for me.”
After graduation, Villoria returned to Venezuela and worked for a digital marketing company. But he still felt he had more to learn, so he emigrated to Toronto in 2014 with his fiancé to do post-graduate work. He earned two post-graduate certificates—in international business management and in public relations corporate communications from Centennial College. He then completed an internship with Latinos Magazine, a bilingual publication, and created an entertainment company that focused on bringing Latin artists to Toronto. But, again, baseball pulled him in a different direction.
“I saw a job posting for a Major League Baseball Spanish interpreter with the St. Louis Cardinals, and I thought that since being a professional player didn’t happen for me, I would try to use my talents and knowledge to do this instead,” Villoria said.
He became an International Communications Specialist/Spanish Interpreter for the St. Louis Cardinals organization, working as a translator from 2018-2020: “It was like a dream come true for sure. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe I was part of a major league organization,” he said. “The Cardinals are a historic team. We went to the post-season in 2019. It was a great experience being able to travel and work with the team. But I also realized how hard it is for players and families to go through the entire season, being away from home for eight months.”
The year the pandemic hit, Villoria made the tough decision to stay at home. It wasn’t just the pandemic, it was the reality that he was away from home too much of the time. But then two things happened that sent him on a course back into baseball. His fiancé’s job became remote, so she could work from anywhere. And then a position opened up with the Red Sox. He started in March 2022. Now they live in Boston during the season, in Toronto in the off-season, and the only time they’re apart is during road trips.
“It’s an honor,” Villoria said of his current job. “It’s one of the most historic organizations in Major League Baseball. And it represents all of New England. It’s a great organization. And it’s great to be able to get to know historic players like Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Xandr Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers. They really treated me well.”
As if getting to know such storied players wasn’t enough, Villoria’s job gives him the chance to be on the field during important moments. He was translating for Franchy Cordero this spring and found himself trying to get out of dodge when teammates decided to surprise Cordero with a post-game Gatorade bath.
“That’s the closest you can get to being a professional baseball player, being there and being part of those moments–that’s what you dream of,” he said.
It’s an honor and a privilege Villoria takes very seriously, and it motivates him to go the extra mile in his work, because he knows exactly what it’s like to be in those players’ shoes when it comes to language: “I can relate to how players try to express their ideas and try to be heard, because that’s what I experienced in Maine as I was learning the language. To be on the field and translate those moments for these players is special. It allows me to give a little back, to help them feel a little more comfortable. It’s hard enough to have to worry about playing the game; I can help so they don’t have to worry about how they’re going to communicate about it after.”
But without his experiences at UMPI, the dream could have worked out differently.
“If it wasn’t for Dr. J and all the work she put in with me going through every assignment and helping me day in and day out to be prepared for getting my message across… for me that’s my main takeaway. I learned how to communicate better. I learned how to write properly. Those are skills that take a lot of time to learn. My time at UMPI was crucial for that.”