So he really was Felipe Rojas. That is a true story. When Felipe got signed from the Dominican Republic the paperwork in the United States read it incorrectly and gave him his mothers name, Rojas, and not his dad’s name of Alou. He didn’t care, he just wanted to play in the major leagues.
The Alou brothers, Felipe, Matty, and Jesus, lived in a poor country with political strife. They had a vicious dictator that causes concern among those in his homeland. Felipe talks about their escapades as kids going out to catch crabs along the shoreline, borrowing the fishing pole that belongs to his dad, and being naked in public when a storm fizzles out.
His baseball at a young age was hitting lemons that were wrapped up in tape. He found he was naturally gifted in almost every athletic event he tried. Baseball was even his best sport. He got into the game in a backhanded way. In 1955, he was part of the Pan America games in trace and field. One member of the Dominican baseball team mouthed off about several topics and was sent home. Another player was needed and those in charge know Alou could play baseball. He was told on the spot that he was now a member of the baseball squad and not the track team. He was very good in those games and was noticed by baseball scouts in the United States and the career of baseball began.
When he was called up years later to play in the major leagues, he was the first player from the Dominican Republic. He went on the fight racism in the game in all aspects of his career. He was a pioneer for the Latin American players. He went so far as to write an article for “Sport” magazine detailing the racism in his homeland. It didn’t sit well with many, but he did what he thought was right.
Of course, his seventeen years in the major leagues is a big part of the book. He garnered more than two thousand hits and hit more than two hundred home runs. He was friends with many of the great players of his time. Roberto Clemente was a special friend and Willie McCovey was one of his roommates. The list goes on and on.
Fourteen seasons were spent as a manager with the first four in the San Francisco Giants clubhouse and followed by ten years as manager of the Montreal Expos. Currently, he is a special assistant to the general manager of the Giants. He has been elected in both the Canadian Hall of Fame and the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame.
This is a great baseball book. You don’t need to just be a fan of the Giants or the Expos. If you are a baseball fan, there is a lot here to keep the reader interested. Felipe Alou was a pioneer for baseball and the Latin players.
I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.