Last weekend I went to Puerto Rico to be with my father during the Hall of Fame ceremonies I mentioned before. It was a crazy weekend, because I had to drive a ton to make it (no, I did not drive to Puerto Rico, but it felt like it). My family stayed at a beach apartment in Buyé, Cabo Rojo. Buyé is a beautiful remote beach in the south west corner of Puerto Rico. My wife's aunt has an apartment there and she let us stay. The place is beautiful and quiet. With us were: my parents, Zayda (my sister), Carlos (Zayda's husband), Maya (Zayda's daughter), Liber (my brother), Joseli (my other brother), Cristina (Joseli's daughter), and Lupe (my dad's sister). The next day we were joined by Rafi (my dad's brother), Collazo (a friend of the family), Emarelis (Liber's wife), Mario Dumont and his wife (friends of the family), Luis Raul and Olga (my inlaws).
My dad was inducted into the hall of fame for his many years of service to the sport in Puerto Rico. He was, among many other things: President of the Puerto Rico Volibol Federation, co-founder of the Criollos de Caguas basketball team from the BSN league (official site), vice-president of the Puerto Rican olympic committee, director of the minor leagues (categorias menores) of the BSN, Vice-President of the Olympic Committee in PR, member of the executive committee that organized the Panamerican Games in PR 1979, President of the NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation), Vice-President of the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), and chef de mission for the Puertorican delegation to many international games: Central American games of 1978, 1982, Panamerican games of 1979 (yeah, those were the games when the distinguished Bobby Knight allegedly mooned all of Puerto Rico from the airplane on the way back to the US, see "A Season on the Brink" by John Feinstein, page 10), 1983, and Olympic games of 1980 (yeah, these were the games boycotted by the US), 1984 in L.A. At the ceremonies they said that there was no important decision for the Puerto Rican olympic movement made between 1977 and 1990 that my was not involved with it.
I want to ellaborate on a couple of stories. The 1980 games were quite significant. A boycott of the games was called by the US, as a protest of the Soviet War in Afghanistan. 60 countries stayed out. The Puerto Rico olympic committee decided that mixing sports and politics was not appropriate and decided to send a delegation to the games. It was somewhat of a symbolic gesture, as only 3 boxers participated. We had a small delegation, the 3 boxers, their trainer, a doctor, and of course, the chef de mission, my dad. As some point I heard that there were less than 10 US citizens at these games, the 6 from PR plus a few other coaches of teams in other nations. For many years we joked that my dad was in some FBI/NSA/CIA list because he defied Jimmy Carter and attended the games as head of the Puerto Rican delegation. Strange coincidence: Alberto Mercado, one of the boxers that went to Moscow that year, was inducted into the hall of fame this past weekend with my dad. He was also with my dad in the 1979 Pan American games and won a gold medal in those games.
The other story was not connected to my dad, but a good one. At the ceremonies, Carlos Manuel Santiago was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mr. Santiago played in the Negro leagues in professional baseball in the U.S. Present in the ceremonies was another PR baseball legend, Emilio "Millito" Navarro. Millito, already a member of the Hall of Fame, has the distinction of being the first Puerto Rican to have played in the Negro Leagues in the U.S. He is also the oldest living member of the Negro Leagues; he is 103. Yeah, 103 years old. When Carlos was asked to say a few words, he simply passed the microphone to Millito saying "Millito wants to talk." Millito proceeded to joke saying "I'm 103 years old and I'm still being called as a pinch hitter."
This past summer, both men were part of a Major League pre-draft ceremony where MLB teams drafted members of the Negro Leagues, as a way to recognize their contributions to the game. Millito was drafted by the Yankees and Carlos was drafted by the Giants.
There were other big moments of the weekend, Julio Figueroa was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was captain of the PR Volleyball team while my dad was President of the PR Federation and was later coach of the PR team that won the US Jr Olympics games, the year my "litle" brother played for him. Also, El Cano Velez was inducted too. He was a great lefty pitcher in local baseball and a great international pitcher for PR; he is a friend of the family. And last, but not least, we got to eat good food... Raices in Caguas, a buffet at a hotel in Adjuntas, chinnese food in Buyé, and the best sandwich cubano I have had in a long time.
We have placed a bunch of photos on facebook of the activity: My album with photos taken with my sister's camera, Emarely's photos, Joseli's photos.
Once again, felicitaciones papi.
Posted on 10/12/2008
Baseball Latinos Personal Sports