Arteaga spent hours strategizing which private schools the boys should attend so that they could play on the best teams. He attended all the boys’ games and practices and traveled with them across the country and to Mexico and Central America to play.
Said Colzie’s son, James Colzie III, a friend and teammate of the boys: “He saw something in Alex and he made sure that he was positioned to get the most exposure.’’
It was Arteaga who found a way to get Alex into Westminster, a private school with a nationally recognized sports program. Tuition at the time was $5,000 a year, but Arteaga helped Alex’s mother apply for grants and they made it work. At the end of Alex’s freshman year at Christopher Columbus High School, he transferred to Westminster, where he played shortstop on the baseball team and quarterback on the football team next to J.D. Jr.
But Arteaga did not live to see Alex and his son make it through high school. He died of a heart attack while watching the boys — then sophomores — play a football game. He was 48.
To this day, Rodriguez rarely mentions Arteaga Sr.’s role in his life, which is a mystery to Colzie, Pascual and others. J.D. Jr., who went on to pitch for the University of Miami and play five seasons in the minor leagues, is now an assistant pitching coach for UM. The two went their separate ways many years ago and J.D. declined to talk about his early friendship or his father’s relationship with Rodriguez.
Rodriguez did not respond to requests for interviews for this story, which were submitted to his New York public relations representative, Ron Berkowitz..
Colzie also hasn’t heard from Rodriguez much since he was drafted right out of high school in 1993. His son, Colzie III, now defensive coordinator for the football team at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, said Rodriguez was kind enough to get him tickets next to the Yankees dugout about four years ago when they played the Atlanta Braves. He recalled how remarkably muscular his childhood friend had become.
“I was like ‘wow, that is not the same kid who played shortstop at Westminster.’ It was somewhat shocking at how good he looked. I remember he was warming up and he looked better than anybody on the field,’’ Colzie III said.
Alex bulks up
Just when Rodriguez began taking performance enhancing drugs is a source of debate. Some have speculated it may have began as early as high school when he had a sudden growth spurt between his sophomore and junior year. Rodriguez has admitted he took steroids from 2001 to 2003 when he played for the Texas Rangers but has insisted he hadn’t used PED’s before or since.
Rodriguez’s freefall began when his name was found listed among the clients of Biogenesis, the now shuttered Coral Gables anti-aging clinic that allegedly doled out steroids and other banned substances to as many as 20 ballplayers. Although most are expected to get 50-game bans, Rodriguez is in line for harsher punishment — possibly even a lifetime ban — in part because MLB believes that he tried to sabotage their investigation by purchasing some of the clinic’s records and destroying them to cover up his doping. So far, A-Rod has vowed to fight to the bitter end, insisting that he is innocent.