Monday, February 22, 2016

The Almodovars join the Saraperos.

The Almodovars joined the squad after game one of a double-header we were playing in Aquascalientes. It was hot that day—it was hot every day—and we were bushed. A lot of playing minor league baseball is getting through an unmanageable number of games in an unmanageably short amount of time. Our twin bill against the Rieleros, the Railroaders, took place after a string of something like 12 games in ten days.

On September 1st rosters expanded in the Mexican League from 25 men on a squad to 34. Six of our nine new guys met up with us in Aquascalientes’ Parco Alberto Romo Chavez and we welcomed the extra men with open but tired arms.

These new men in general were guys from the lower echelons of the Mexican Baseball League who, because of some demonstrated ability at those lower levels, earned a promotion to more prominent teams. They were players “management” wanted to take a look at, hot bats, strong arms, or prospects demanding closer inspection.

The four who I first got to know were Alfonso, Alonzo, Alberto and Alfredo  Almodovar. They were quadruplets with beards the size of a small backyard garden, and hair long, down to their shoulders or beyond, so they looked like they played for the old House of David barn-storming teams. I’ll be the first to admit I found it nearly impossible to tell the four apart. Not only were they almost identical in looks, their mannerisms, ticks, and verbal fillips were almost identical, too.
The House of David team, circa 1932. Members of a religious order that prohibited ball games on Sunday.
And cutting their hair.

Hector Quesadilla began to size the quartet up.

“Alfonso,” he barked.

Alfonso replied, “Primera.” He was to play first base.




“Campocorto,” he said, shortstop.


“Esquina caliente,” Alfredo said. He was playing the hot corner, third base, my position.

“Eso es al cuadro.” This is my infield, said Hector. Giving me at third, Adame at second, Rojas at first and Angel Diablo at short the night off.

The four Almodovars quickly changed into uniform and ran to their appointed stations on the field and began playing pepper like the Harlem Globetrotters on amphetamines, tossing the ball like magicians, between their legs, behind their backs, and every which way imaginable. Their hands, if you must know, were like wild birds, a blur of movement and…prestidigitation.

I was sitting next to Hector on the bench as the Almodovars were warming up, my usual position when I wasn’t at bat or on the field.

“Where have they been all season,” Hector asked me.

I read the crumpled “Transfer of Players,” from the home office, eight type-written pages, two for each Almodovar.

“It says they were playing for Los Indios de Iguala,” I told the old man.

“Class B,” Hector said. “And how did they do? What does the scouting report have to say?”

“Los Indios were 17 wins and 49 losses,” I said. “It says that Alfonso is strong defensively, but with limited range. Alonzo has no arm. Alberto goes left well, but can’t go right. And Alfredo,” I stopped and handed the sheaf of scouting reports over to Hector.

Hector read aloud.

“Alfredo él es bueno, pero a veces pierde la pelota de béisbol en la barba.

I translated to myself.

“Alfredo is good, but he sometimes loses the baseball in his beard.”

 continued later this week.

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