Turn on the TIVO, set your VCR or whatever you have but tonight at 9 PM be ready to watch one of the best baseball documentaries ever!!
“Viva Baseball” a movie by Dan Klores shows how Latinos shaped America’s favorite pastime – baseball. Starting from the early part of the 1900s to present day the movie does justice to so many talented Hispanic players who made baseball the great game it is today. It shows their struggles and battles and triumphs in American society and in the game. It makes you love and respect these major leaguers more then ever and makes you even prouder to be Hispanic.
Yesterday I was invited to a special screening of the movie in Washington DC with Hall of Famers Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda and the family of Roberto Clemente, his wife and two sons. Various members of Congress were part of the crowd, including Senator Mel Martinez, Senator Ken Salazar and unfortunately for me, Rep. Jose Serrano, among others.
No matter what Spanish country you are from you take so much pride in these Latin All Stars. From a Cuba perspective its especially wonderful, as the film rightfully credits Cuba as the country who spread baseball to the rest of the region. It also shows Castro in the correct light, as a horrible dictator, destroying baseball, separating families and destroying everything in his path.
It was even more wonderful knowing that Serrano was there, watching his little friend Castro shown in his real form, a communist dictator and harsh tyrant.
In addition the soundtrack to the movie is a gift to any Cuban enthusiast; I could just imagine my grandma in her prime in Havana dancing to the songs….
Yesterday was probably one of the greatest days of my life, I was in the presence of these baseball all starts. My father had told me stories of these dynamite athletes and I now, because of the movie, had a new wonderful appreciation of their legacy. As the movie ended, they all had tears in their eyes. I got to shake the hands and tell them of my gratitude and what an honor it was to meet them. My smile was ear to ear. I could hardly muster the right Spanish words to talk to them. They were so happy to hear me in their native tongue thanking them for their work, their commitment to our culture and baseball.
Mrs. Clemete was the sweetest women I had ever meet. Her sons were polite and modest. Mr. Cepeda took a liking to me and complemented me on my Spanish and took some time to talk to me. I was in heaven!!!
I even got two baseballs signed by Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal - One for me, one for my dad.
This morning I talked to my father for half and hour, his excitement was just as exaggerated as mines. We talked about baseball, about American bigotry and the amazing ways that these men, paved the way for all Hispanics to be accepted in all levels of American culture.
The Hall of Fame has only inducted six Latin players, many hundreds have been neglected in history.
Yet for those given that honor --- , Thank you Mr.Roberto Clemente. Thank you Mr. Juan Marichal. Thank You Mr. Luis Aparicio. Thank you Mr. Rod Carew. Thank you Mr. Orlando Cepeda. Thank you Mr. Tony Perez. And thank you to the hundreds of others who made this country better for me to accomplish my dreams.
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