'Es Chavista': The time Venezuelan fans booed Magglio Ordonez at the World Baseball Classic

Upon hearing that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez died Tuesday at the age of 58, I was immediately transported back to 2009, when I attended a World Baseball Classic game between Venezuela and the Netherlands.

I was writing a column for The Miami Hurricane, the student newspaper at my alma mater, the University of Miami, and went in with a plan to focus on the night game between Puerto Rico and the United States.

But plans rarely go accordingly, and I soon found myself a part of something I, as an American, couldn't quite understand.

Sitting out in right field, surrounded by Venezuelan fans - think Eagles fans with musical instruments - I heard what sounded like a taunt directed towards one of their own players, Magglio Ordonez.

But how could that be? Why would they boo their fellow countryman?

Hugo Chavez.

Here's an excerpt from my March 2009 column:

Then something happened that I didn’t fully understand. Magglio Ordonez, a member of the Venezuelan team, stepped up to the plate and, although the crowd was nearly 75% Venezuelan, he was greeted by some of the worst booing I have ever witnessed (and I’m from the city that booed and threw snowballs at Santa Claus).

“Fuera! Fuera! Fuera!” the fans yelled as Ordenez waited on the first pitch.

I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I asked the lady sitting in front of me, “Why are they booing him?”

“Es Chavista,” she replied.

My small Spanish vocabulary allowed me to infer that she meant he was a supporter of Hugo Chavez, the unpopular leader of Venezuela. I have never seen so much political passion displayed at a sporting event, and I was actually moved.

The amount these people cared for their team and more importantly the country it represented spoke volumes about how unenthusiastic Americans were for the event.