came from nowhere. He held my shoulder and he had a gun and he said I was
arrested for crossing against the light. He took me to court, and the judge
looked at me in a hard way. This is what I said: 'I am Puertorrique�o and a
ballplayer and I do not know how it is in the continental states. I thought the
green light meant for whites to cross and the red light meant black people
could cross the street.' "
"What did the
judge tell you?"
"He said he
didn't believe me, but that the case was dismissed and that I should never
again appear before him in court."
Then Power told
harder stories, most of them ribald and bellicose. He mentioned that Ted
Williams liked him, and he was proud of that. When Jimmy Piersall had called
him a black bastard, Power had recognized Piersall's intensity and his own
strength and had withdrawn. And Early Wynn, oh, Early Wynn. He lived in
Florida, but he was a very good pitcher.
When you are
looking at a team you have not seen before, watch the shortstop, who must move
laterally and charge slow, twisting ground balls and make the play. Neither
14-year-old shortstop playing in front of Power and me looked promising. Power
agreed. We were not seeing the best of Puerto Rican games. "In New York, in
what you call Spanish Harlem, do they still remember my Gold Gloves up
there?" he asked.
The baseball cast
is always changing, and in Spanish Harlem people now talk of Felix Millan and
John Candelaria and Willie Montanez. "Sure, they remember your Gold
Gloves," I told Power.
"This team is called Caf� Crema after a big coffee company that gives the
uniforms. It is not the best team, and Caf� Crema is not the best coffee. When
you have lunch, order our other coffee, Caf� Rico."
the next day, Mayoral drove me to the Country Club section for a Little League
playoff. At Parque Angel Ramos 200 people cheered and watched and listened to
Carlos de Jesus broadcast over loudspeakers as the game developed before their
eyes. Country Club defeated Valle Arriba 9-0, and the Country Club shortstop,
Jorge Burgos, played impressively.
In the fifth
inning, with Country Club's victory already safe, a Valle Arriba base runner
reached second. The next pitch bounded five feet from the catcher. The runner
did not try to advance, but when I looked up, there was Jorge Burgos backing up
play," I told the 12-year-old after the game.