February 5, 2013 – Mexico City.
From the office of WBC President Dr. José Sulaimán:
The following is one of the weekly “Hook to the Liver” columns that are published in El Universal every Sunday. From February 3, translated from Spanish:
HOOK TO THE LIVER
By José Sulaimán
Baseball, a Love That Was Not For Me.
I felt a tremendous sadness to read about the passing away of the greatest baseball hero that I ever had: Stan Musial. Musial was the perfect type of athlete with his unwavering loyalty to the St. Louis
Cardinals and being one of the great hitters with a career batting average of .331 that very few have accomplished. He was for me a giant. As a student in college I would take the bus to St. Louis just
to see him play. He was of the era of two other great idols: Joe DiMaggio and Bob Feller – two other
greats among the greatest.
One of the private things in my life is that I played baseball for 20 years – in the USA, my home town in Ciudad Victoria, and Ciudad Valles. I was not a great player, but I did well. I was selected as a pitcher for the Mexican National Team for the First Pan-American Games in Argentina in 1951. I did not go as I had to leave for home for the death of my mother. I also played pro winter baseball in Mexico in the Winter Gulf League, the Autumn League, and the Oil League of the Coast. I pitched 5 no-hitters, one of them a perfect game – 27 batters, 27 outs. I also played third base most of the time and won several hitting titles. I was signed by the Boston Braves after a tryout in Fall River, Massachusetts, which was attended by over 300 players. I could not go because I broke my tibia and the peroné of my right leg. After my graduation I practically retired. I just saw after my accidents that baseball was not my destiny. Boxing was.
Coming back to my times, one other part of my life is unknown: I saw on TV and in the papers a nice picture of the new Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, shaking hands with also a smiling president of Cuba, Raul Castro Ruz, the brother of the long-reigning Fidel Castro Ruz. That picture made me think of Cuba, one of the few countries that I do not know. I met the Cuban Castro Ruz brothers in a student house where my brother Hector lived. They lived in the province and used to come to Mexico City to visit a gentleman whose name, I believe, was Cienfuegos. We used to talk about baseball and social matters but Fidel, a gentleman with a mustachio – no beard – was somehow very serious with a personality clearly showing that he was an important man.
My brother Hector became a close friend of Raul, today the president of Cuba. They used to go together to baseball games, the movies, etc. My brother Hector was a modest donor for Granma. He called me for the reading of the papers of the invasion of Cuba. Hector knew, I did not. I do not know if the Castro brothers remember my brother, who was their close friend, but I am sure they probably do not remember me. It’s so long ago.
Cuba is a beloved country for Mexicans. Mexico was where most of the star singers and actors used to come when I was very young. So did great baseball players, like Lazaro Salazar, Martin Dihigo, and Ramón Bragaña, among so many others. In boxing also, they took Mexico as their home, like Kid Gavilan – managed by my late dearest brother Yamil Chade – Mantequilla Nápoles, Ultiminio Ramos, José Legrá, and several other superstars.
Today I ended up talking about different parts of my life that I don’t usually talk about. But today was a day of profound feelings of some remembrances of some happy moments in my life. Those days led me not to get away from the sport of my love, and also to think of great people who I treasure as my heroes.
Thank you for reading my thoughts, and until next week…