It's hard to remember sometimes that those guys out there on the field
are real people, with real families and friends and real lives. They
worry, care, and ponder life's twists and turns just like the rest of
us. It is not so hard to consider that a player with a family member
facing serious illness or one with a friend that is tearing himself down
piece by piece or one that is simply overly concerned about his future
in the game, can easily miss a ball in the outfield or bobble a ground
ball hit right to him or strike out in the ninth inning when the game is
on the line and he is the last hope. Baseball players are human. They
are not fantasy pawns that are moved around the field of life without
feeling or thought. And, that includes Cuban defector and Springfield
Cardinal fan-favorite Amaury Marti.
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.