"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How about a poem about Alou brothers?

Brothers have not been uncommon in major league baseball. What's uncommon is for three brothers to not only make the bigs, but to excel there. We were blessed seeing the Alous perform. You remember: Felipe, Matty and Jesus.
Jesus came along when his name made many people feel uncomfortable. It seems quaint now. His name is pronounced "hay-SOOS." Still, it seemed America wasn't quite ready in the early 1960s for a player whose name was spelled the same as the Christian Savior.
The Alou brothers were from the Dominican Republic. They should have been known by the last name "Rojas." The San Francisco Giants scout who signed Felipe thought that "Alou" was his surname. It was his matronym. Felipe, eldest of the brothers, became the first Dominican to play regularly in the major leagues. The name never sprouted as a matter of contention, evidently, and everyone went on happily with  "Alou." As for "Jesus," America needed a little time to adjust. Other players with that name would filter into the majors.
Today the non-Anglo names are totally accepted in the U.S.
All three Alous distinguished themselves. The boomer fans grew up seeing the Alou name frequently in boxscores. Those guys helped us adjust to the flow of non-Anglo players into our newspaper sports sections. Remember when Minnesota Twins fans made a big deal out of the name "Bombo" (Bombo Rivera)? It was disrespectful. Today any sports journalist who chooses to make light of such a name, implying that it's against the grain - perhaps worthy of a chuckle - would be dismissed immediately. It's not just political correctness. It's just sound thinking.
I recently wrote a post focusing on Jesus Alou on my companion website, "Morris of Course." click on the link to read:
Today I have a poem I wrote about the great Alou brothers. Here we go:
"My Three Sons" was on TV
Let's turn to reality
Three strong boys with baseball gloves
Playing in the game they loved
They had bats with lots of juice
Felipe, Matty and hay-SOOS
Quite the trio by the Bay
With the Giants and "Say Hey"
Jesus loves me, yes he does
We cheered hay-SOOS scoring runs
He was youngest of the three
His name from divinity
Wait a minute, that's not true
Even if the spelling fools
"Jesus" has the Bible ring
hay-SOOS is another thing
It's a common Latin name
Just like Tom or Sue or Jane
But the times were not real ripe
For the foreign-sounding type
Baseball had an Anglo cast
But the times were changing fast
In due time the game evolved
Foreign athletes got involved
U.S. boys saw "funny names"
In the boxscore for their game
hay-SOOS was exhibit 'A'
Of the men who came to play
We loved that triumvirate
Siblings who were wholly fit
For the game that spanned our land
Whacking balls and pitching grand
Felipe was the oldest one
Quite the strong Dominican
He played as a pioneer
For his country, quite in gear
Matty was the middle boy
With a bat that brought fans joy
He would play for 15 years
In the majors, winning cheers
Then came Jesus, youngest one
We said "hay-SOOS" with aplomb
Little brothers are the fave
(That's what we're supposed to say)
Their last name is etched for all
In the stone of our baseball
We embraced the name "Alou"
Taking on a world view
Players with a brownish tint
Giving no real racial hint
Came into the baseball fold
Making racial notions old
Now we loved the major leagues
With our eye for style and speed
No more ethnic judgments made
Our U.S. had turned the page
No it wasn't overnight
That our new ideals took flight
We all learned from Branch Rickey
Progress can be rickety
Branch transformed the diamond sport
From an ugly racist sort
To a new day with an eye
To the future, vistas wide
'50s were a time of trial
For the rich and rank and file
As we saw the Jim Crow South
Stay alive with their big mouths
We heard those with wisdom say
Rome was not built in a day
Those who said we had gone wrong
Would end up just dragged along
To a place of destiny
Where all colors could be free
Now we'd see exotic names
Building up that baseball flame
In due time it got routine
Seeing names outside the mean
Even hay-SOOS had its charms
When he hit that baseball far
Jesus is the Bible man
He lived in a foreign land
He was Jewish, not a WASP
But our churches deem him tops
Odd how we put up that fence
When our culture was hell-bent
To present our rules and norms
Tilting toward the native born
Those three men from foreign shores
Helped break down our tattered norms
Felipe, born in '35
Made his island come alive
His son Moises carried on
As a whole new chapter dawned
No more burden bringing fear
As an ethnic pioneer
Though it's just a mem-ry dim
"Alou" was their matronym
Thus it should have been eschewed
For the "Rojas" name, we heard
Rojas was their family name
It was in the preferred lane
For the way they should be called
If they ever made the Hall
But the name "Alou" just stuck
'Cause a Giants scout screwed up
That old rube assumes the blame
Getting wrong on that surname
"Rojas" was the way to go
Like that fellow Cookie, bro
Never mind, not much ado
We all loved the name "Alou"
Those three guys could mesmerize
With their hitting, fielding eye
Pitchers feared their lumber, yes
With their talents we were blessed
Moises with his Cub cap on
Was the fielder who was wronged
When that fan named Steve Bartman
Showed his mischief from the stands
Bartman was escorted out
To the sound of taunting shouts
Moises tried to stay composed
Though he knew his team got hosed
Cubbies could have won in fact
So to keep their soul intact
They were leading three to zero
Not in need of any heroes
Moises and his mates were primed
To continue with their climb
Would the Bartman play just fade
As a blip in their parade?
No, the play would seem a hex
With the things that happened next
One by one the Marlins scored
Moving up on that scoreboard
Moises had to feel chagrined
Pondering the might-have-beens
Through the years his family knew
How this game could torture you
Even when you give your all
In this pastime called baseball
Sometimes you just hear the boos
Unless your last name is Alou
© Copyright 2016 Brian R. Williams

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