When I awoke, I dressed for the comidas de veteranos--the Veterans' Dinner which was held at a restaurant called Diego's across the street from Estadio. I wore a sky blue linen shirt and white linen pants and a pair of white bucks I had picked up for the occasion. I looked in the mirror. For an old man who had left most of his vitality on a ball field just hours before, I looked halfway human.
Diablo, Buentello and a few of the other boys--many of whom I did not know, were in the lobby. A lot of ex-ballplayers, because everything is always arranged for them, seem to lack the capacity to grab a cab to dinner. A few of them hustled with me into the open-air back of an old Mazda pickup. In two minutes or so we were at Diego's, drinking cervezas and nibbling hors d'ourvres that were long on ornate but short on substance.
After two or three beers glasses were clinked and the forty or fifty of us sat down in our assigned places. Most of the Veteranos were younger than me, but the guys hosting the Juegos de Viejos, the guys from the club were older. There was a big banner behind the head table where the big wigs sat.
In short order the non-players and money-men who owned the Saraperos got up, cleared their collective throats and began making speeches.
Mostly they were about the long and stories history of the club and our glorious part in it. How we had traveled from all corners of Mexico and North and South America to be there. How we were family and would always be Sarape-Makers.
The Managing Director of the team, Oscar Rojas Salazar Neri, spoke of tomorrow's game and how all our uniforms would have a small embroidered marking "HHQ"--Hector Horatio Quesadilla in honor of his four decades of service to the team and the Saltillo community.
The more they spoke, the more I drank. The more I drank, the more everyone drank. It was like a bad Bar Mitzvah in Parsippany, New Jersey. There's not much else to do but get bug eyed.
Around ten--I had yet to extricate myself from the environs, one of the fellas, a wiry second-baseman who had played for a few seasons in the 80s, brought out a case of tequilla--he was a distributor of the stuff in the Yucatan. And before long, everyone was taking shot after shot and in the offing getting drunker and drunker. If you ever find yourself in the middle of 50 tequilla-drunk old Mexican men, I recommend you leave as soon as possible. Which is what I did.
I have a game tomorrow.