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`Detoured' by the major leagues: a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher comes true for a big league baseball player. (People).

Little boys grow up wanting to play big league baseball. Colorado teacher Frank Gonzales grew up wanting to be a teacher, but took a detour into the major leagues. Now he's fulfilling his original dream.

"My goal was always to be the first in my family to graduate from college, and then go back to my high school as a teacher and baseball coach," says the first-year teacher. "The major leagues kind of took me off course."

Gonzales now works with English-as-a-Second-Language students at Lincoln Junior High School in Fort Collins and also serves as head baseball coach at Colorado State.

The Detroit Tigers drafted Gonzales out of Colorado State in 1989. He went on to play for 11 years in the major and minor leagues with the Tigers, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Pittsburgh Pirates. He also spent one year playing international baseball in Taiwan.

"We've been around the world," says Gonzales, who has been married for 12 years and has two children. "In 12 seasons, we had 32 addresses in eight countries, including a stint in South America where I played summer ball."

Adds Gonzales: "It was an amazing experience, but when Colorado State called and asked if I would coach, I knew it was time to go home and pursue my original goal."

With the help of a scholarship, Gonzales finished college and started teaching at Lincoln--where, he says, most of his students aren't fazed by his former career.

"I'm their teacher, and I think that's what they respect," he says. "The players on my team at CSU, on the other hand, want to know all about Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, and the other guys I came through the leagues with that are big now. I tell them they are just `regular guys'--like me."

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Title Annotation:Frank Gonzales
Author:Gomez, Dina S.
Publication:NEA Today
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:300
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