Featured Column: Grateful Heads, Hola from Puerto Rico
She can dance a Cajun rhythm
Jump like a Willys in four wheel drive
She’s a summer love in the spring, fall and winter
She can make happy any man alive
“Sugar Magnolias” (Grateful Dead)
On day two of this winter’s road trip, I experienced a summer love in the winter by forcing my wife and in-laws to interrupt their vacation to attend a winter league baseball game in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The Indios de Mayaguez were taking on the Ponce Leones, at none other than Garcia Stadium.
Garcia Stadium is brand new and awesome, though baseball is nothing new to the Heads in Mayaguez, having had a team since 1938. Besides the $4 advertised price and general admission seating, the game is mostly the same brand as the one played in United States. The most obvious difference is the Mayaguez Indios cheerleaders, officially dubbed, Los Mayaguez Dancers, two women dancing in spandex uniforms bringing an element of sexy to the game not found anywhere in the Major Leagues.
Overall the food and drink options at Garcia Stadium are good, but limited – a bottle of local favorite Medalla Light beer is $2, and an empanada is $3. But when I discovered the pina colada guy in the second inning, things got a little more interesting. I caused mild confusion when I cancelled a large drink order because there was no booze in the pina coladas. The pina colada man understood and brokered a deal with the owner of a rum bottle nearby to everyone’s benefit.
It was during the rum deal negotiations that I heard the fans get loud, and assumed it was attributable to a play in the field, a home run over the short fence in right field, or possibly an appearance by Carlos Beltran who was listed as a reserve on the Mayaguez roster. When I got back to my seat, I learned the roar was due to my mother-in-law catching a foul ball and then doing her best imitation of the los Mayaguez Dancers. Good Sanity.
Sitting behind home plate in the heat of the Puerto Rican night, eating pizza empanadas and sucking down pina coladas, I wondered what it all meant. The los Mayaguez Dancers were grinding on top of the home team’s dugout inducing a string of errors by Ponce’s first baseman, when it occured to me, rightly or wrongly, that this was the kind of place where someone could streak through the outfield and it would be fine.
I made my move down third base line and was ready to jump on the field when the announcer called attention to San Francisco Giants center fielder, Andres Torres, in the home team’s dugout. Torres stepped out for a standing ovation close to my spot down the line, at which point I battled polite children for his autograph on my mother-in-law’s foul ball.
The bottom line is baseball in Mayaguez is awesome. Any Head with five bucks can stroll in late, snag a front row seat, sip an island drink and have a world series champion indulge a request made in limited tenth grade Spanish to please sign his mother-in-law’s balls. Not bad.
A bonus column, “Theme From the Bottom – Grienke, Gonzalez Traded,” appears on the next page