St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on January 13, 1991 · Page 29
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 29

Publication:
Location:
St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 13, 1991
Page:
Page 29
Start Free Trial
Cancel

3JAfJ'13 19913 SUNDAY, JANUARY 13, 1991 ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 5F BASEBALL illMHilMl Some Latin League Play Still Vital For Youngsters fill the stadiums here all the time.: Now, they have cable TV and can see-all the major-league games they want.! The winter leagues thus have more rntm fnr tnn UAiina nariira nl air arc an A . With the Post's High School Page i uiiu iui tup juuiig uuiiit jiujti0 auu . some of the top minor league prospects from the States. The pressure to win is strong and comes from the top. . For instance, Ivan Mendez owns the Mayaguez team. Two years ago, he. was the team's radio announcer and . had various business interests. Since he bought the team, it has become his livelihood and sole source of income. Playoff success brings more fans and more home games. Winning the Puerto Rican league title would put Mayaguez in the Caribbean World Series In Miami, meaning a hefty payday for Mendez. Latin fans take baseball seriously. But winning isn't the only concern for winter league players. Gamboa said he stresses instruction, particularly with the vast group of young players. Maxvill said: "Winter ball is more than just going down and playing for these guys. I don't think a club should send a player down there and tell them it will hurt their status if thev By Mike Eisenbath Of the Post-Dispatch Staff Escalating major-league baseball salaries have helped shrink the stature of the winter league competition in Latin America. But those winter leagues still serve a welcome purpose, Cardinals general manager Dal Max-vill said. The Cardinals like to place some top prospects or players with a specific need for refinement or development on a team in leagues in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico or Venezuela. "It's close to a Triple-A level of ball, a good brand of baseball," Maxvill said. "Even if he doesn't put up great numbers, a player there gets himself another half-season of baseball." Most players don't go to the Caribbean looking for eye-popping statistics. They go for continued on-the-job training in a highly competitive atmosphere. Players such as Cardinals outfield prospect Lonnie Maclin go to prove certain knocks against them are unfounded. Two rubs against Maclin have been that he had defensive weaknesses and couldn't hit lefthand-ed pitchers very well; Maxvill said he didn't see those weaknesses in Maclin, ,who hit .275 and didn't commit an error for Mayaguez, P.R. Pitchers might go to work on a new pitch. Some players might go to learn a new position or work on hitting a breaking pitch better. Even coaches might go for managerial experience. Tom Gamboa, newly hired as San Diego's minor league field coordinator, is managing the Mayaguez team. "Players have everything to gain and nothing to lose," Gamboa said. "If a player does very well, that gives his major league team a reason to advance him through their system. If he does poorly, the teams don't put too much stock in it. "But it's worth it for everyone that comes here. There is a lot of maturity to be gained off the field." Gamboa said the leagues exist on their own merit and called it the "major-league season for the Latin countries." Not long ago, the winter leagues had a true major-league flavor, as most of the top players would play for teams in their native countries. That included Juan Marichal, Roberto Clemente and even Ruben Sierra as recently as two seasons ago. Many top players from the mainland United States played as well. "It was good to supplement their income then," Gamboa said. "Now, it's tough to get a Puerto Rican native to play in the league once they're making a certain level of salary. They don't need the extra money, and they don't want to risk injury. "Consequently, the crowds have dwindled. Ten years ago, they would It's hip, it's happening, and it's all about the St. Louis teen scene. . . It's the Post's High School page! Every Thursday in Metro Post, the High School page covers different issues that affect area teens, from coping with peer pressure to finding financial aid for college. You'll also find school notes from around the metro area, and a different high school is spotlighted each week! Stay on top of high school news every Thursday in Metro Post. For home delivery of the Post-Dispatch, call 622-71 1 1 or 1-800-365-0820. don't do well. The experience that far away from home and in such a different area is a maturing experience in its own way. - "We like to challenge a lot of our young people with going down there." ' ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH Baseball One day Maclin was amazed to see a man ride a horse to market. The rider dismounted, then brought the horse, inside the store and tied it up. "What was scary was that after about seven weeks, I actually started getting used to everything," Maclin said. .. And he would do it again. "Overall, It was worth it," Maclin said, rm giad 1 sacrificed Thanksgiving, Christmas, my girlfriend's birth-. uajr. uai iicicu luc was uiai i aiajrcu there and stuck it out. v "I thought I had become an instant man mhan T reA Via Cf T rtnlc fn iA 1 . 111011 nuuw juiiicu 111c i, a-uuia uai uir nals organization, went to the minor- leagues and started paying my own Kiltc T uracn't half tha man T naoAaA trt Get on-line access to the Post-Dispatch be for Puerto Rico." - Much of the crime results from poverty, of which Maclin got unforgettable glimpses. The Mayaguez baseball field sits next to a housing project Every day, when the players arrive, 50 small children are waiting. Not for autographs, but to steal baseballs and resell them to the team. A team might start batting practice with 60 balls and finish with seven. 'And people told us not to mess with those kids," Maclin said. "They were 10, 11, 12 years old. But they wouldn't care about messing with you. They would sniff glue, then they'd climb to the top of the lights and swing from the electric cables during the game. "They were just so poor. One kid at the park every day, he had a cut on his leg and It was so infected. Every day he came back, and every day it was swollen even more until our trainer finally had to clean it for him." The players could have looked the other way; many did. Maclin's nature drew him to the children, though. "I made a lot of friends down there, with the kids and the players," he said. "I'm like a comedian on whatever team I'm on. And I like kids. Twenty or 30 of them would gather around me every day. I was one player who would take time out. Instead of waiting for them to steal a ball, I gave it to them and then played catch with them. And they never gave me a problem." Other things gave Maclin problems. Stray dogs roam throughout the countryside and through the streets. "You might see 500 stray dogs in one day," Maclin said. Maclin and his roommates, Cardinals prospects Rod Brewer and Tim Sherrill, at first got stuck in a one-room apartment about as big as a kitchen in Mayaguez. They soon found bigger accommodations in Davodo, about 20 minutes outside San Juan but a 2 14 -hour drive from Mayaguez. That meant having to put up with Puerto Rican drivers and the quirks of animals running wild. "They don't drive normal there," Maclin said. "If you're not cut off by a car which you are constantly then it's by a cow or a horse or a dog or a goat. I'd hate to be a stray cat in Puerto Rico." From page one ioned down there." Travel brochures don't trumpet the crime and poverty Maclin said exists in the Caribbean. Mayaguez is a seaport city of about 96,000 on the western side of Puerto Rico. Most tourists rarely see that side of Puerto Rico. San Juan, the vacation spot, is in the east. The stories of crime frightened Maclin enough to make him exceptionally cautious. He said that would-be thieves like to charge cars stopped at stoplights. So in San Juan no one stops at a red light after dark. One day, William Sherrill was talking on the telephone from his home in Bellfonte, Ark., with son Tim in Mayaguez. A rock was hurled through Tim Sherrill's window, and their conversation was cut off. "Tim's dad said it sounded like a gunshot, and he panicked because he couldn't get a hold of him when he tried to call him back," Jo Sherrill, Tim's mother, said. "He was dialing the wrong number, though." Bellfonte has a population of 393. "You hear of a misdemeanor now and then," Jo Sherrill said. "Tim was just not used to the kind of culture he found in Puerto Rico. He sure was glad to see the adjoining states when he got back home. But I think he can understand the people he's playing with a little better now. He has seen where some of them come from." Sherrill, a lefthanded pitcher, said his baseball ability benefited from his Puerto Rican experience. He had a 2.90 earned-run average in about 38 innings. He said he improved his ability to throw a changeup and breaking ball behind in the count, his primary purpose for playing winter ball. "I enjoyed playing the games, but I wouldn't do it again," Sherrill said. "I feel like I put in my time. ... It kind of tore me up inside. I was on edge all the time. I had problems with our team's owner, with paychecks and living conditions the whole time. "I guess it tests how mentally tough you are." Subscribe to VuText Now you can subscribe to the Post-Dispatch through your personal computer with Vu Text, the largest U.S. newspaper databank. Within seconds, you can review any article in the Post-Dispatch from as far back as 1987. Subscribe to VuText and get on-line access to the Post-Dispatch' and more than 70 other newspapers. For more information, call 1-800-323-2940. ANNUAL WINTER SPORTS COLLECTORS CONVENTION JANUARY 19 & 20 SAT. 9AM-7PM & SUN. 9AM-5PM HOLIDAY-INN NORTH 4545 N. LINDBERGH, 1 MILE FROM LAMBERT AIRPORT ST. LOUIS OUR SPECIAL GUESTS WILL BE If W We've spared no expense in making sure that each of our . suites is the finest you'll ever experience. Every room has been totally, carefully and beautifully -, renovated and the surroundings ' are positively elegant. Television in the parlour, the bedroom and the bath, two-" line phones and honor bar. Twice-daily maid service, 24-hour room service and the most attentive staff you can imagine. St. Louis' most elegant dinners are served in the breathtaking May fair Room. Breakfast, lunch and dinner in the famed Hofbrau. Banquet space and fare beyond compare. A special introductory price of just $98. Join us for a ' night, or several nights, at this very attractive rate. Once you've experienced the Mayfair, you'll never settle for less. SATURDAY 12-3PM WILLIE MAYS STEVE GARVEY, TONY GWYNN AND SUNDAY 12-3PM WILLIE MAYS BOB GIBSON, RALPH KINER JOE & FRANK TORRE, BUCKY DENT DON'T MISS THIS ONE! STEVE GARVEY WILLIE MAYS BASEBALL MEMORABILIA FROM 1 888 TO PRESENT OVER 185 TABLES OF THE FINEST COLLECTIBLES IN THE COUNTRY TABLE HOLDERS FROM 25 STATES WITH QUALITY ITEMS PLEASE NOTE THERE WILL ALSO BE A CHARGE FOR AUTOGRAPHS SPONSORED BY THE ST. LOUIS SPORTS COLLECTORS, INC. RICH HAWKSLEY ADMISSION $3.00 DAILY BILL GOODWIN Wii FOR MOST CARS TRUCKS NEW BRAKES INSTALLED! 97! I BRAKES eliro Mm 1 REQ. $69.95 REQ. $59.95 FRONT REAR BRAKES DISC BRAKES DRUM BRAKES I NEW DISC PADS NEW BRAKE LININGS ' I MACHINE ROTORS -MACHINE DRUMS INSPECT HYDRAULIC INSPECT HYDRAULIC I SYSTEM SYSTEM INSPECT BEARINGS INSPECT WHEEL CYLS. (Metallic Pads $10 Extra J Most Cars & Trucks) r MAWMR SUITES J,' In Saint Louis, it's the Mayfair. "hotels' Resorts 8(16 Si. Charles Street t St. Louis. MO 6.1101 314421-2500 or 1-800444-3313 I LIFETIME WARRANTY (See Manager for Details) - ww mi ti3R aim &m v ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH maun? MRiti iBt$SB

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 12,200+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free