El Paso Times from El Paso, Texas on July 1, 1990 · 47
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El Paso Times from El Paso, Texas · 47

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El Paso, Texas
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Sunday, July 1, 1990
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47
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El Paso Times Sunday, July 1, 1990 Alfaro Continued from ID made both hands into fists for emphasis and, with a little shake, said, "It's like I'm ballplayer again. It's like I'm 18 again. I'm having fun making some cash, playing third base, talking it up to our pitchers, hitting the ball, everything is good." Going on 1,500 Sometime during the dog days of August, Alfaro will wobably play his 1,500th minor eague game. Why Alfaro has never spent a day with a major league club is somewhat of a mystery. He does not have great speed, S-eat range or a great arm. ut he is solid defensively. And his bat is more like a magic wand. Alfaro went into Saturday night's game with a .313 batting average, 11 home runs and 56 runs batted in. He is among the league leaders in each category. He has had a 5-hit game, a 4-hit game, a 4-RBI game and a 2-home run game in 74 games vith the Diablos this season. But this is merely a continuation. In 13-plus seasons, Alfaro has played 1,460 games, has 1,537 base hits, 282 doubles, 150 home runs and 878 runs batted in. He has been injured only twice torn knee ligaments sidelined him his entire second season in 1977 and a broken ankle forced him to miss the second half' of the 1979 season. "It's hard to pinpoint exactly why a guy doesn't make it to the top,'' Milwaukee Brewer director of player personnel Bruce Manno said. It could be a number of reasons. In Jesus' case, it certainly isn't lack of desire. He's got a great attitude, he's always ready to play and he's never hurt. We know this," Manno added. "Jesus has been with us several seasons and we've always viewed him as a very solid organizational player. He can fill in at any level and play a number of positions." Alfaro is in his fifth season at El Paso and Diablo owner Jim Paul views him as an important asset. "First and foremost, Jesus is a good, good human being and an outstanding gentleman," Paul said. , "He is by far the most popular player we've ever had here. He concerns himself with helping, the younger players and he concerns himself with the fans, hoping they enjoyed a play, an effort. And I'll tell you this. I think it's just blind stupidity on behalf of the major leagues that Jesus has never spent a day in the big leagues. Alfaro himself is almost philosophical about it all. "This has all been fun," he said with a small shrug. "I want to make it to the big leagues, sure. I don't know if I'll ever get the chance now. I just have to play hard every day. And you know, when things are going real good, that dream comes back you can I - ;S.l!ll!f ;s'i iffitiip 4if5 jpilt! Jesus Alfaro has always loved the game, and it shows in his smile. make it, you can make it. "I know I can swing the bat up there. You can check my stats. I know I don't have a great arm, but I can make the right play at the right time. I can make the routine play every time. Maybe I won't gun him out, maybe it'll be a bang-bang play, but he'll be out just the same." The statistics bear Alfaro out in the field, too. Playing regular third base this season, he has no errors. None. Zero. The whole picture Perhaps, it is a bit sad that Alfaro has never seen the bright lights of the major leagues. But don't feel too sorry. He doesn't. "I've played winter ball at home every year. You know, it's good back there. We get crowds of 20-25,000 for each game. I've made a pretty good living. In my best years here and at home, I've made about $30,000 here, about $30,000 there. "I'm comfortable. I've got my family a wife, three boys, two girls back home. We've got everything we need a nice house, an apartment, a nice car. When I finish playing, really, all I'll need is just a job to keep some money coming in. We've got just about everything else we need." Is this it? Is this his last season? Alfaro says no. "I want to keep playing until they won't let me play anymore; until I can't play anymore; until my body gives out . . . until my legs go. . . . When that time does finally come, well, I hope I can find me a job as a scout or a coach. I know the game." Just having fun "I'm just having fun playing this game," Alfaro said. "Yeah, oh yeah, it's every bit as much fun as it was when I began, when I was a kid. I feel like I'm doing well. And that makes me feel very young, very good." Diablo manager Dave Hup-pert played with Alfaro in 1980 Alfaro's trek in the minors started early By Bill Knight El Paso Times Jesus Alfaro wasn't always the wise veteran, the man who has seen it all through 14 minor league baseball seasons. And he still remembers the beginning. "I was 14 and a guy signed my brother," he said. "He liked me, but said I was too young; said he'd be back in a couple of years. Well, I thought I'd lost my chance. How often do two brothers get signed? "But when I was 16, Ruben Amaro of the Phillies signed me. They sent me to Pulaski, Va., in the Appalachian League. I was about 5-foot-9, about 140 pounds. I didn't play for the first 10 games or so. Finally, they put me in and I got some base hits. I played every day after that.' But it Wasn't an easy year. "I was iust a kid and I was little, he said. "I was very homesick. I called my Mom and told her I wanted to come home and didn't want to come back here until I was 20. But I stayed. And it worked out. The next year I tore ligaments in my knee in spring training. They told me they were gonna operate. I say no way. I was just a kid. But I didn't let them do it. And it just got better by itself. "My other injury was the toughest. I was in Midland in '79 and I was hitting .352. I was July 13th . . . Friday 13th. I had just hit my 10th home run and I was very happy. I was wearing brand new shoes. I went to turn a double play and the longer spikes stuck and I broke my ankle. That really set me back." But Alfaro has continued to hit the baseball wherever he has landed . . . Pulaski, Pompano Beach, Midland, Des Moines, Rochester, Charlotte, El Paso, Denver, Edmonton and back home in Maracaibo, Venezuela, in winter ball each year. in Charlotte, then again in El Paso in 1985. Now, he sees him from another angle: "I think maybe that broken ankle in 1979 might have done Jesus in. He started as a shortstop and had great range. That set him back some. But he's had a great minor league career. After a pause, Huppert said quietly, "f really, really wish the day would come at the end of the year when I could tell him he's going up there . . . but I don't think that day'U ever come." If it comes, it comes. Alfaro would be a happy man. And he would probably get some base hits. Morris Continued from ID out here is not because of a sympathetic wife," he said after missing the cut of the Greater Hartford Open in Cromwell, Conn., by one shot. "It was a tough decision. But I think it's destiny. I love coaching and I plan to be the UTEP golf coach as long as Don Haskins has been basketball coach, 30 years." He also expects it to be a little easier. "You can really get wounded out here mentally. Norris said. "In my case, with my philosophy, I often put too much Eressure on myself and got urnt out. "But, hopefully, some guys out here who are struggling might look at me and remember that I was committed. And I had my day in the sun eight years ago in the GHO. I've got it on tape. Nothing can change it." No one would ever have any way of knowing Norris was one of the PGA Tour's happiest and most fulfilled guys. No one ever bothered to ask. But Shelly knew because she is her husband's best friend and as they retire to a new life, neither has any regrets. The year Norris won the Greater Hartford Open, he hit a shot that struck a spectator on the head and bounced backward onto the green. Another spectator who thought he was funny said, "Any guy who can hit a carom shot like that deserves to win." He didn't know he was standing next to Shelly, who lit right into him. "That's not very nice," she scolded him. "He didn't mean to do it. What's the matter with you?" The comic, properly chastened, gulped, turned kind of crimson and slunk away. Well, that's Shelly and Tim and Tim and Shelly. She's a smiler, mild of nature (like him). But when you sting her man, you sting her. Friday, Shelly walked beyond the yellow ropes following her husband as he struggled to make the cut an old story. But she was not anxious this time. She was not crushed when the putts failed to fall. Her home is El Paso, their house is in El Paso and so is his new job. "On a (cut) day like this, I would say, 'Please God, let him make the cut,' " Shelly said. "But finally I realized that in the big picture of things, it's not really that important. It used to be devastating when we'd miss. But in late years, if we miss the cut, well, so what?" "I'm not sure, even if he won, that we'd go back on the tour," she said. "We have a new baby daughter, Ashley. And you know what? We found out that folf isn't absolutely everything, wasn't sure of that until we went home." Senior Continued from ID under to have a shot," Trevino said. "I know him like a bock. Jack will shoot 68." Trevino led or shared the lead until he committed what he called "a dumb play" on the 18th hole. He put his second shot into a bunker and made the bogey that made Nicklaus the sole leader. Trevino shot 73, one over par, and was at 208. "I knew what I had to do, shoot 68 or 69. I shot 73," Trevino said and shrugged. "That's golf." Player had a 68 that could have been better, and Dent -salvaged a 72 despite a damaged index finger oa his right - hand. Dent needed 15 stitches to close a wound sustained when he caught the finger iri a door Saturday morning. And Dentj who did not win in his years on the regular tour, is giving nothing away to his three more famous competitors over the final 18 holes. "You're chasing the golf course. You don't worry about Jack Nicklaus of anyone. You just worry about yourself. I feel wonderful about my chances," he said. Miller Barber, the only three-time winner of the U.S. Senior Open, closed with a 67 and and was alone at 210, 6-under par. He was followed by Don Bies at 67-211. "Gary and Lee and I can't get to playing each other," Nick-tlaus said. "If we do, Dent or somebody else can blow right past us.' But it was Nicklaus who went blowing past everyone this time. He came from five shots back to claim the lead. He did it, not only with a domination of the long holes, but with some long-range putting. Nicklaus birdied the par-5 second from 20 feet, then scored eagle-3 on the fourth with a 45-footer, got his third shot close on the 13th and made birdie-4, then got a share of the lead with an 18 foot putt for birdie-4 on the 17th. "I figured if I shot 67 today, I'd probably still be a couple back," Nicklaus said. "Obviously, Lee helped me. "Tomorrow? I could shoot 72 and win; I could shoot 67 and lose." LZBiO. 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