Besides swine flu, what do you think of when you think of sports and Mexico? Off the top of my head, here’s what comes to my mind:
Angel Macias: He was the guy who could pitch with both hands. He led Monterrey, Mexico to the 1957 Little League World Series. I was 5 years old at the time, but I remember reading a story about him six or seven years later. His story always captivated me, probably because I was born in Monterrey, Calif.
The 1968 Olympics: I can still see Bob Beamon shattering the world long jump record — a record (29 feet, 2 1/2 inches) that stood for nearly 23 years. And, and even more vivid is the memory of watching African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, raise their black-gloved fists as a symbol of “Black Power” when the national anthem was played after receiving the gold and bronze medals for the 400 meters. They were banned from the Olympics Games for life.
Fernando Valenzuela: The portly left-hander was one of the craftiest and smartest pitchers of his era. He pitched for six different teams, but it was his 11 years with the Dodgers that defined him. His screwball was one of the nastiest pitches of all-time.
Lorena Ochoa: The record of the Mexican golfer speaks for itself. She’s got a chance to be regarded as one of the all-time best before she retires.
Jai Alai: Billed as the fastest sport in the world, it’s played on a court with three walls and I remember sitting mesmerized one day in Tjuania, watching it and betting on it for about three hours. Players whip a hard ball (called a “pelota” I believe) with a wicked-basket glove off the front wall. I found it fascinating.