There’s No Place Like Home For Robinson Cano: He’s Back In NY At Last

Robinson Cano
TRACKSUIT: Gucci
WATCH: Richard Mille
SHOES: Jordan

BY LAURA SCHREFFLER

PHOTOGRAPHY SCOTT MCDERMOTT

STYLING CHRISTINA CHAVEZ

GROOMING JORDAN MVP BARBER

Robinson Canó is living in a parallel universe, where everything in his world is exactly the same, but somehow just a little bit off (like the Upside Down in “Stranger Things”).

Case in point: After five years on the West Coast playing for the Seattle Mariners, Canó, arguably the greatest offensive second baseman of all time, has returned to the city where he began his Major League Baseball career. Except now, at age 37, he’s no longer a fresh-faced 22-year-old rookie. He’s swapped the bustle and bright lights of Manhattan for the calmer clime of Long Island, and he’s playing for an entirely different team—the Queens-based Mets, not the Bronx-bred Yankees.

And yet, life, according to Canó, is exactly as it should be.

Robinson Cano
SUIT + SHIRT Zohreh Uomo Inc.
POCKET SCARF: Hermès

“It feels really good; it feels like I’m back home,” the Dominican-born player confides. “I’m just on a different team and living in a different area. It’s not what I’m used to, but at this time in my career and at my age, I love being on this side of town. I can play with my kids; I have a yard. I love this side of New York.”

If he’s being honest, he loves any side of New York. It’s his city, a melting pot of people from all walks of life congregating in one spot, a city that has culture, cuisine and bright city lights. Like most places, it’s imperfect, but it is his. And while there was a lot to love about his adopted home of Seattle—the cuisine being a real selling point in its favor—New York City has always felt like his true home. But back in 2013, when he turned down a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Yankees, whom he had been playing for his entire career (he was signed by the team in 2001 and appeared in the 2003 All-Star Futures Game before being called up to the majors in May of 2005) in favor of a longer, more secure deal—a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners—it seemed like a necessary thing to do. He stands by that decision to this day. “It was the right move at that time,” he maintains, “[but] it was hard being away. It’s not the same, Seattle, but I loved the city and had a great time there. The people were very good to me, and my family had a great time there, too. [But] once you grow up in New York, once you’ve been playing in the city for nine years, it’s something that [becomes part of you].”

When it comes to playing for the Mets versus the Yankees, the team whose name had previously been synonymous with his own, he’s pragmatic. “Every time I get a chance to wear a major-league uniform, I consider it a chance and an opportunity to be able to play the game I love. I still get a lot of people who tell me that they loved watching me play with the Yankees, that I was their favorite player, and they thank me for the memories. That’s the same thing I want to do here with the Mets. I want to go out there and help the team to win the World Series, win a championship in Queens. That’s my No. 1 goal.”

He’s gotten there before, helping the Yankees secure a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2009 World Series, and he’s confident he can get there again. In his first at-bat as a Met, for example, he hit a home run and later drove in another run in the Mets’ 2-0 Opening Day victory. As he heads into his second season with the team on March 26—a three-game home series against the Washington Nationals—he’s nothing but focused, preparing to dominate on the diamond with friends and teammates like Edwin Diaz—with whom he was traded to the Mets in 2018, as well as Amed Rosario, Jeurys Familia and Wilson Ramos. “I’m the kind of guy who prepares the same way, but tries to focus more on the stuff I need to get better, but I always work hard,” he notes. “I got injured last year with my legs, and that’s something that I focus on now; to get my legs stronger and to play all 162 games.”

Robinson Cano
SWEATER: Louis Vuitton
JEANS: Paige Premium Denim

Essentially, Canó isn’t going to let anything hold him down for long, especially considering that he’s been winning for the majority of his career. He’s an eight-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, a World Baseball Classic MVP, two-time Gold Glove Award winner, Home Run Derby champion, World Series winner and the 2017 All-Star Game MVP. He became the 41st all time in doubles in 2018 and second place all time among second basemen in home runs. He recorded 1,695 base hits during the 2010s, the most of any major-league player. Hell, he was literally destined to be an MLB star given that his father, former MLB player José Canó, named him after Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.

“When I signed with the MLB, I finally understood the power behind that name,” he admits. “It’s a blessing. You want to go out there and keep Jackie’s name going. I’m proud to have his name and want to be just as successful.”

It’s successful in more ways than one. The sports legend’s legacy lives on through the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a nonprofit organization that gives scholarships to disadvantaged minority youths for higher education. Canó has followed in his namesake’s footsteps by forming the RC24 Foundation to positively impact the lives of underserved children and communities. He, too, is focused on education and officially opened the doors to a Montessori school in his hometown of San Pedro de Macoris in 2015.

Giving back has become the most important part of Canó’s life in recent years and will become his primary focus when he retires. Specifically, he wants to give up-and-coming young players the educational tools necessarily so they won’t get taken advantage of in contract negotiations or otherwise.

Robinson Cano
TURTLENECK: Reiss Caine
COAT: Prada

“Education has been an issue in the Dominican Republic for years,” Canó notes. “I’ve been blessed that I’ve been able to go to school and play at a high level, so [my thinking is that if I] get paid that amount of money, why not go back and give back to the community? I’ve grown up with kids that don’t have anything, that don’t have a house. Sometimes, they don’t have shoes or have played in Little Leagues with holes in their shoes. [And] I’ve been around Dominican players on the major-league level that don’t even know how to write their names. This shouldn’t be happening. You’ve got to help them out. I want to encourage the guys to get better—not just playing baseball, but to coach them outside of baseball.”

This was the motivation behind building the school itself, though he does find it limiting that thus far it only caters to young kids, and he’s slowly but surely building it up to help the young, prospective players he’s mentioned. “My goal is to make the school bigger, to go from kindergarten to 12th grade and to have the five best students get scholarships so that they can go to college,” he says. “It makes me feel bad that we only have [schooling available for young kids] right now [because] where do they go after that? I just want the situation to get better. [Players without education] could get taken advantage of. They don’t know how to write, how to take care of their money. They don’t know how to look at what they might be missing.”

Having a hand in helping young people who didn’t have the resources or support system that he did to make it big would be worth its weight in gold. “I don’t want this to keep happening,” he declares. “It’s going to be my biggest satisfaction if [these kids] make it to the big leagues and say, ‘I made it here because I learned how to write at Robbie’s school.’ It would be so satisfying to give these kids the ability to be somebody—a doctor, a lawyer, whatever it is.”

Many athletes, actors and influencers in the limelight attach their name to a cause because it looks good, but Canó is not one of those people. He is not paying lip service only. This is his next move, and—dare we or he say it?—it currently feels more relevant and more impactful to him than baseball.

Robinson Cano
BOMBER JACKET: Gucci
SWEATSHIRT: Louis Vuitton
JEANS: Paige Premium Denim
WATCH: Richard Mille

“I want to be remembered more for giving back [than for my skills as an athlete],” he admits. “If the world only sees me as a baseball player, they’re only going to remember me [until] someone else does something that [surpasses what I’ve done]. For example, if someone hit five doubles in one day, they’re going to say, ‘This is the first second basemen since Robbie to hit five doubles in one day.’ But once baseball is done, it’s all about the next generation. They’re not going to remember me; there’s always going to be another second baseman. [I want them to see me as] Robbie, that I’m a human being like anyone else. I want to be remembered as a humble guy that really cares and gives back.”

In this respect, he definitely wants the next generation to follow in his footsteps—specifically, his next generation: 11-year-old son Robinson Miguel and 3-year-old daughter Galia Sofia. “I want them to follow my legacy and just be humble,” he says. “I also just want them to be somebody one day, whatever it is that they choose, whatever they want to do. I would like my daughter to graduate and get a degree. If my son likes to play baseball, then I’d like him to make it to the big leagues. My son is going to be 13 or 14 when I retire. He loves baseball, so I hope he can one day sign with a professional team. I want to help to him be the athlete that he wants to be.”

With his plans for the future in place at the moment, Canó is simply enjoying being home at present, and the luxuries that it affords. It means that he’s able to drive his five whips—which include a Lamborghini Urus and a new Rolls-Royce Cullinan—slowly through the streets of Long Island (he refuses to get a second speeding ticket); that he’s close enough to Manhattan to frequently dine at his favorite restaurants, Nobu, TAO, Philippe Chow and Cafeteria; that he’s able to consistently expand his jewelry and sneaker collections; and that he can afford to buy a house and spend time at it with the people who matter most: his family—a plethora of siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins scattered throughout New York and the Dominican Republic.

He’s aware that this, his now, is glorious, and will not take it for granted. “Right now, I would say that I’m in the right place in my life,” he declares. “I do what I love—I play baseball. I’ve got my health, family and kids. I’m playing for the greatest fans in baseball. I’m closer to the Dominican Republic [than I was in Seattle]. What else can I ask for?”

Robinson Cano
TURTLENECK: Reiss Caine
CUSTOM SUIT: Evan DeLaney Bespoke
POCKET SQUARE: Lanvin
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