Review: Alou’s is a journey well worth sharing

by Gary Shelton on April 24, 2018 · 0 comments

in Baseball, general

By Scott Myers

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

If you are a MLB baseball fan, then I strongly recommend to you the book - “Alou – My Baseball Journey”, written by Felipe Alou with Peter Kerasotis.

Peter and his little friend.

Peter and his little friend.

I reflected briefly on what I knew about Felipe Alou right before I began reading the book.  I remembered that he was a Latino who played for the San Francisco Giants during the 1950’s/1960’s and was a teammate of Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, and Juan Marichal – not much beyond that was in my decrepit memory banks.  I was born in 1947 and was pretty focused on MLB, especially the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, during the time period that Felipe played, so I probably should have remembered more since the Giants were the Dodgers arch rival back then.

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After reading the book, I now know so much more about Felipe Alou, and what an interesting journey he had!  I had forgotten that Felipe was traded to the Milwaukee Braves after the 1963 season and became a teammate of Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Warren Spahn.  I had forgotten that he had two brothers who also had noteworthy MLB careers – Matty and Jesus - and that all three played several games together covering the entire Giants' outfield.  I had not known that Felipe was the first MLB player to go directly from the Dominican Republic to the MLB.  It never occurred to me that during Felipe’s playing career (1958-1974) that his first year occurred with a franchise that had just moved from NY to San Francisco and that he was with the Braves when they moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta after the 1965 season.  I was pretty oblivious to the fact that Felipe had a very successful MLB managing career.  Weave in the facts that Felipe has a son – Moises- who had a very successful and lucrative MLB career, and all of the drama associated with growing up as a member of a large family, in poverty in the DR with its intense political issues, and you have all the ingredients for a great story that is told extremely well by Felipe and Peter.

Now I have read quite a few biographies of other MLB players. And because I am a baseball fan, I always find them interesting reads. But I would have to put Felipe Alou’s biography at the top of the list because it sheds so much light, beyond baseball, on what it is like to travel to a foreign country as a very young man to perfect one’s profession.

From the first part of the book, I learned to appreciate the difference between "poor' (how I grew up) and "poverty" (how Felipe grew up). Through the rest of the book, Felipe’s rich history of being an MLB player and manager over such a long career I found to be a very compelling story. It is great to have gotten many glimpses of famous MLB players and managers that not only tell why they were great MLB contributors, but why they were very interesting people as well.

Throughout the book, one gets a strong sense of what it is like to be living your adult life in a country where you did not grow up and all of the complications and difficulties that arise because of that – learning the language and customs, being treated as a 2nd class citizen, etc., while at the same time playing a very physically demanding game with rigorous travel requirements.

And, of course, Felipe had a great story to tell regarding his very large family – 4 wives and 11 children!

I feel that I now have a much better understanding of the nature and history of MLB from the 1950’s right up to the present because of the story Felipe has told.

 

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