When we left Joaquin Andujar, the St. Louis Cardinal pitcher, he was getting carried away. Following the seventh inning of the seventh game of the 79th World Series, Andujar, while screaming at Milwaukee Second Baseman Jim Gantner, was ushered off the field in the considerable embrace of Umpire Lee Weyer. And even the 6'6", 258-pound Weyer needed help from Cardinal Pitching Coach Hub Kittle to point Andujar in the right direction.
Gantner, also screaming, was upset over the way Andujar had held his comebacker until the last instant before firing over to first. "I called him a hot dog," said Gantner. "What's wrong with that? Everybody knows he's a hot dog."
"He tells me, 'You're a hot dog [hyphenated epithet],' " Andujar, who was lifted after the seventh because Manager Whitey Herzog thought he'd pitched enough, said in a postgame press conference. The conference was unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) broadcast to the milling Cardinal fans in Busch Stadium. "I tell him '[Fie on] you, [hyphenated epithet]. [Fie on] you, I'm going to kick your [bottom].' But we're friends. That's baseball. That's me. I don't take no [guff] from nobody."
It was a funny way to end a World Series.
With apologies to Sir Winston, Andujar is a riddle wrapped in a hot dog role inside an enigma. He calls himself "one tough Dominican." He's also one charming, evasive, humble, egotistical, intelligent, suspicious and generous Dominican. And he's one tough Dominican to get to know.
"My favorite word in English, and I love this word," says Andujar, "is 'youneverknow.' " He designs houses and disrupts clubhouses. His ties to his hometown of San Pedro de Macorís are so tight that his house is around the corner from his former high school, yet he fancies himself a cowboy from Texas. He has 21 rocking chairs in his house, which is ironic, because more than once he has been accused of being off his rocker. (Milwaukee's Gorman Thomas, no steady rocker himself: "Joaquin is missing all of the face cards.") The same man who has fought teammates, has poured milk on his head after a loss and sometimes wears a one-sleeved warmup jacket to protect his non-pitching left arm, also spends $5,000 every Christmas on gifts for his town's children and sponsors countless youth baseball teams there. After the Series he successfully fought a three-year suspension from the Dominican winter league, and then quit after one game because he was getting too much publicity. Youneverknow.
Andujar loves the sound of rain on the roof. "I am the happiest man in the world when I am lying in bed and hearing the pitter-patter of the rain overhead," he says. He enjoys the sound so much that when he had a second floor added to his house, he had two giant red aluminum disks inserted in the concrete roof over his bedroom. He now gets his pitter-patter in stereo.
"When I was small, I always dreamed of getting a house like I have now," Andujar says. "I was raised in humbleness, and the house that I lived in had a zinc roof. I liked listening to the rain fall on it, especially at night, and I liked to sleep and dream when it rained. I thank God and the Virgin Altagracia my dreams came true."
San Pedro de Macorís is a town of 74,693 citizens on the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. San Pedro is in sugarcane country, and its rum is among the best in the world. The town's secondary product could well be baseball players, because starting with Rico Carty in 1963 San Pedro has sent numerous native sons to the majors, including, currently, L.A.'s Pedro Guerrero and Toronto's Alfredo Griffin.