Marti is one of the newest, quietest and most humble players on the team, but the Springfield Cardinals' right fielder, who generally shuns the limelight, is suddenly finding himself in front of local TV news cameras and newspaper reporters as they all want to know what he thinks of Cuba's recent change in governmental control as Fidel Castro hands over the reins of the country, if only temporarily, to his brother, Raul.
Marti says that he doesn't get much news about Cuba in Springfield. He speaks very little English (I think one would probably be safe in saying none except that "none" and "always" are words trained journalists never use). He goes about his daily routine of practicing and playing with a smile on his face and a ready-to-play attitude before every game. His family remains in Cuba and, as Marti told KY3-TV reporter Laurie Patton on Tuesday (through an interpreter) he has had little word from or about them since he left the small Communist-controlled island. With tears in his eyes Marti, related to Patton how he escaped from Cuba a little over a year ago in a speedboat and left his parents and siblings and the rest of his family back on the island.
Marti says that he, like others, dreams of a free Cuba someday, but whether or not Castro is in charge or not may not be the only factor involved. Marti says that Cuba is ruled by a small, wealthy group that controls the politics in Cuba and that Cuba's future, along with his family's future, is uncertain because no one knows if a change from Castro to whomever will be better or worse.
On Tuesday night, Marti had a chance to be a hero and send the Cardinals and fans home with a win and a winning homestand record. The Springfield team came to bat in the bottom of the ninth trailing the Tulsa Drillers 7-5. With two outs and two strikes glaring from the scoreboard, catcher Dan Moylan hit a home run to bring the Cards within one run of Tulsa. Then, Juan Richardson, with two outs and again two strikes, singled up the middle and Marti came to the plate. He too ran the count to two strikes but, he didn't deliver the miracle. He was called out on strikes, watching as a Jim Miller fast ball blurred right past him.
Marti is human. Who knows what was lying heavy on his heart and mind last night. Put yourself in his spikes and think about where your thoughts and reflexes would be.
Even though Marti graciously says that he doesn't have much time to think about what daily life in Cuba is like for his family, because he is practically consumed with baseball--playing the best he can for Springfield and the fans, we all know how hard it is when family is hurting--even a baseball player's, minor or major.
Baseball is a part of life. We love it. We watch it. We smile through the highs and bum-out through the lows. But, it is only a small part of life. It is a bigger part for the players, but it is not the only part. Winning is great. Losing sucks. But, losing a game and losing the respect and love of a hard working player like Amaury Marti would be a tragedy.
It is only a game. Win or lose Amaury Marti, as well as all of the Springfield Cardinals, are tremendous individuals and give 100 percent of all they have to give every night. The measure of a true fan is how strong your faith and loyalty can remain whether your team is in first or last place.
I cannot predict the outcome of this season. I can only say for certain--win or lose guys, I will be back in my seat, God and John Q Hammons willing, next year.
Now, can I get an Ole! Muy Bueno!, for Amaury Marti?
You can write John Brayfield at email@example.com.