Tuesday, December 29, 2009

State Memories Project: Puerto Rico

I met Efrain during a Montreal Expos/Atlanta Braves game I attended in 2003, back when the Expos were playing several series a year in San Juan since nobody in Montreal seemed to know they existed. Yes, I flew all the way to Puerto Rico for this. (Quoth one friend: “I can’t believe you’re flying all the way to Puerto Rico to go to a baseball game.” My response: “That’s not true. I’m flying all the way to Puerto Rico to go to TWO baseball games.”

Efrain was an elderly man, there with his wife, who noticed me scoring the game. In labored English, he asked me: “Do you always do that?” I showed him my scorebook and said that yes, I always did that. That would have been it, except that shortly thereafter, the Braves turned a double play. Efrain turned to me and said “Six-four-three.” The next play, a grounder to third, I turned to him and said “Cinco-tres!”

Incredibly, my scorebook got us to talk a bit about baseball. I learned that he was a Braves fan, and an Andruw Jones fan in particular. While he struggled to find the word “defensive,” he let me know that he thought that Andruw Jones was the best defensive center fielder he’d ever seen…”and I’ve seen Willie Mays!”

It was marvelous. We were divided by generation, upbringing, race, and language, but we had a fantastic night talking about momentary baseball stuff. It was probably my favorite moment I’ve ever had at a baseball game…and that is saying something.

When he got up to leave for the night, he said “Well, brother, glad to know you.” In only a couple of hours, I got all the way to the appellation of “brother.” And that alone was worth the 8,000 mile round-trip. It solidified in my soul my need to travel far and wide to go to ballgames. Muchos gracias, Efrain.