Senor baseball

Luis Mayoral's job with the Rangers isn't all brown and white

In 1980, Mayoral also wrote the first of three books, Mas Alla de un Sueno (Beyond the Dream). He was 35 and thought "it was time to share the beauty I find in the game," he says, explaining that in Puerto Rico, there are only a handful of books available about baseball. He would write two more books, Mas Alla de un Sueno--Lo Inolvidable (Beyond the Dream--The Unforgettable) and a biography of Clemente, and he says he donated the proceeds to various entities, including the Little League in Puerto Rico and a federally sponsored organization that helps the elderly find work. "I've never been rich," he says, "but I've always been well-off."

As a writer, Mayoral never saw himself as a "historian of trivia," as sportswriters have been called more than once; he preferred to think of himself as the sport's ambassador on the island. In the April 12, 1981, issue of The San Jose Star, Mayoral wrote the obituary of Pedrin Zorrilla, a Puerto Rican baseball pioneer who formed the Santurce Cangrejeros Baseball Club and discovered such future Latin stars as Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, and Ruben Gomez. In his piece, Mayoral didn't just tick off Zorrilla's accomplishments, but also added the personal touch: "[Zorrilla] was as humble as any man you can find...a man who cared for his people and for his countrymen."

Such would be the hallmark of Mayoral's journalism and his work with the Rangers: If you are a baseball man, you are a good man.

"I'm all for stats, and I'm all for goals and the lofty pinnacles players reach, but what I like to dig into is the beauty of the game, the feelings of the players," he says. "Players to me are like artists. I see Juan [Gonzalez] performing in right field like I did Clemente, and that to me is Picasso, Nureyev. There's so much beauty in it.

"A lot of people only go out and see the spectacle of it--the green grass, the white uniforms, the Ballpark in Arlington--when the fans don't know what it takes to get that spectacle going. Ballplayers stimulate something in people young and old, rich and poor. In my life, baseball is a great denominator. Politics and religion tear people apart, but baseball brings them together. And it's my job to make sure that happens."

E-mail Robert Wilonsky at rwilonsky@dallasobserver.com.

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