My dad and Matty Alou

My first thought was what is this doing here?
There, amongst the outdated cookbooks, well-worn paperback novels, and hardcover reference books at the Pittston Library book sale, was a little book on the life of Felipe Alou. I recognized his photo on the cover immediately.
As I began to leaf through it, I got a second surprise. It was written in Spanish.
I knew just where this book belonged. In the hands of one of my students at Luzerne County Community College. Andy Perez wants to be a sports writer or a sports broadcaster. When he is not going to class or studying or working his part-time job, he finds time to pitch on the LCCC baseball team.
Andy lives in a bi-lingual household. He speaks English beautifully, but also Spanish. I knew he’d appreciate the book on many levels. Unlike most his age, Andy knows and appreciates baseball history. He’s not only heard of Felipe Alou, he also is familiar with his brothers Matty and Jesus Alou, both also Major Leaguers, and his son Moises, another big league player. Felipe, the first Dominican to play on a regular basis in the majors, was an outstanding player and manager and was once named National League Manager of the Year.
The little Felipe Alou book brought back a memory of my dad and Matty Alou that I shared with young Andy. First, I had to explain to him what a 13-run pool was.
Back when baseball was king, groups of guys – they could be co-workers at a factory, or fellas who frequented a bar or a VFW – might start a 13-run pool. Each guy would put a dollar or maybe two into a pool each week. Each guy was assigned a Major League team for the entire season. If your team scored exactly 13 runs in a game, you won the pool. Since 13 was an odd number, the pool could grow into a hundred bucks or more, a lot of money in those days.
My dad had the San Francisco Giants one summer. All three Alou brothers played on the Giants that year but I’m not sure if it was the same season when all three played in the same outfield. That doesn’t matter.
What does matter is the day my dad came home from work mad as a hornet. I don’t recall the team they were playing, but I do remember the Giants and their opponent went into extra innings all tied up – at 13 runs apiece. Then, Matty Alou smacked a home run to win the game. And cost my dad the pool.
When I say Dad was mad, I mean he was furious. So much so that all I wanted to do was laugh. How I stifled myself I don’t know.
The funny thing was, I really liked Matty Alou. He was one of my favorite players, actually. No, I never told my dad.
By the way, I just found out Felipe Alou co-authored an autobiography that was released last spring. Titled “Alou: My Baseball Journey,” it’s been described as “as much a life journey as it is about baseball.” I have to pick that up for Andy Perez. But I’m going to read it myself first.

Ed Ackerman