THIS IS A REPOST FROM AUGUST OF 2018
Looking back at my life prior to hitting my late twenties, what stood out to me was the community that I was apart of. My family always seemed to be at the ballpark. It was where we seen all the families. Families such as Montalvo, Gomez, Medrano, Lopez, Castilla, etc. The community was one, at the park. Oh sure, they competed on the fields, but we belonged to one family. This wasn’t a race thing, it was whoever showed up. And if you were there, the Latino community claimed you and you were forever apart of “Us”.
Yesterday, Cafecito Caliente had the chance to bring together the Women’s Latin Leagues from 1973 to 1989. Such a flashback as I witnessed so many hugs, smiles, laughter led by the women of those years. With all due respect to the Cristo Rey Fiesta which has been the site of 40 years of gatherings of our community, this was different. The women took the field, and I say this with humor and seriousness, they took the field where the Lansing Lugnuts play like they owned it. To see their faces, and their responses after they came off the field was magical.
The Latin League players were recognized for their playing for 17 years in the Lansing area. But, reality is, they gave us a reason to gather, thus gave us a way to be a community back then. There was no Facebook back then and we still knew each others business, only we didn’t mind it as much as we do today. We live in a broken world and the Latino community as we know it today is no different. So many families do not even speak to each other within the family. Make no mistake, the generations before us never intended it to be that way.
Yesterday, the Latino community was one. Sure, we numbered about 400-450, so many were missing, but yet were they? So many people were in our hearts, the memories of yesteryear and who didn’t smile when we seen Matilde Gomez and seen the tears she shed? I was Blessed to have talked to quite a few of the players over the last couple weeks and to hear their excitement, to listen to the love they had for their fellow players was deeply touching.
Yesterday, if you weren’t in attendance, a bunch of women who decided to pick up a bat, ball and glove years ago, taught us that we can all be equal on the same field, at the park and in life. They reminded us how deeply they care about each other and our community. They showed us what family is supposed to look like blood related or not. They showed us how when one of their own is not in the best of health sitting in a wheelchair, that they are still so loved as they sit in wheelchairs. You reminded us that an older generation still has some value and deserve our love and attention. They reminded us of a time when life was simple and you just had to be you and show up to the park despite the aches, pains and bruises that softball players got used to (sounds like life huh?). You reminded us how to be proud again the right way.
Much thanks to the Lansing Lugnuts for allowing Cafecito Caliente the freedom to create a memorable day for the 7th year in a row. A special shout out to Eric Pionk, Group Sales Rep and Tyler Parsons who is in his first year as General Manager of the Lugnuts. Eric, listened to every wish we had, figured out how to make it all work and even had to make his own on the field decisions changing the Cafecito lineup during the pregame which turned out to be a winning move. Tyler has taken a proactive role with the Latino community and is making plans to create a 3 day weekend for our Gente in 2019.
Most importantly, they reminded us of how to be a community again. The Latino community has taken its hits, especially in the last couple years. But we did back then too and these Latin Leagues continued to show up each Sunday and made our lives a little better and provided a support system whether we knew it or not. Much thanks to all those who made it out to the park to support the Latino Leagues.
To the Latin League Women Players: If you have ever experienced a 3 day Church retreat, you know the first day, you get comfortable. The second day, you finally get into it during the afternoon and are deeply emotional by night time. On Sunday, your feeling invincible. Monday is the big day. Will you keep in touch with each other? Will you choose to become a little more involved in the Latino community? I can’t thank you all enough for showing up. In life, that’s huge! Just showing up is how we change lives. Thank you for touching a community and my hope is this isn’t the last we will see of you as a group or as individuals. The Latino community needs you more now than ever.
Much love and respect to all of you Ladies, te quiero mucho! – off my soapbox