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Diamond Heirs
Michael Farber
June 19, 1995
It was Felipe Alou's destiny to become a baseball star, and then the game became his family's legacy
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June 19, 1995

Diamond Heirs

It was Felipe Alou's destiny to become a baseball star, and then the game became his family's legacy

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So leading off is Felipe Alou, 60, the righteous one, the first native-trained Dominican to play in the major leagues, the outfielder who in 17 seasons (1958-74) had 2,101 hits, the 1994 National League Manager of the Year (with the Expos), the man who has had four wives and 11 children, three of whom he named Felipe.

There is Matty Alou, 56, the sly one, who had 231 hits in one season (1969) for the Pittsburgh Pirates and a career .307 batting average from 1960 to '74.

There is Jesus Alou, 53, the dutiful one, who was not as skilled a batsman as his older brothers yet played in the majors 15 years between 1963 and '79 and now oversees the Marlins' scouting and development operation in the Dominican Republic.

There is Felipe's son Moises Alou, 28, the tough one, who suffered a severely dislocated left ankle and broken leg while running the bases on Sept. 16, 1993, and came back to stroke the game-winning hit for the National League in the 1994 All-Star Game.

Felipe had two other ballplaying sons and namesakes: the first Felipe, who died in 1976 and is eternally 16, and the second Felipe, who is now 16 and could set off a bidding war between two of his uncles' teams, the Giants and the Marlins, when he becomes eligible to turn pro on Nov. 29, his 17th birthday.

There is yet another of Felipe's sons, Jose, 31, who was a .300 hitter in the Florida State League until the late '80s, when a bum shoulder and the curveball turned him into a patrolman on the graveyard shift with the Delray Beach, Fla., police.

There are Don Abundio's grandsons, the Rojas brothers: relief pitcher Mel, 28, who this season was elevated from setup man to closer in the Expo bullpen; and outfielders Francisco, 38, who played in the Giants' system in 1977 and wound up in the Mexican leagues; and Jose, 26, who was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1988 and was released the next year.

Finally there is Jay Alou, Jesus's son, a former junior varsity player at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., who has played more violin than baseball and would like to become a doctor. Still, at 21, he went to the Expo minor league camp in March instead of pursuing his medical education.

Sooner or later a Kennedy will find his way into politics, and sooner or later an Alou is going to play baseball. "Alou," says Jay, the Hippocrates on hold, "means baseball."

In the U.S. the game is an heirloom, handed down through generations like good china. But if you come from the Dominican Republic, you can't afford to treat the game with a field-of-dreams conceit. Fishing—now there is something to pass on to your children. The Rojas-Alou family was of modest means (Doña Virginia's father was a gardener for Dominican strongman Rafael Trujillo) so Jose Rojas taught his children to fish. And they taught their children to fish. Felipe Alou says Don Abundio never played baseball. Matty says his father did play but quit at 15 when he saw a friend die after being struck by a bat during a game.

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