In 2012, rain interrupted Latino Night with the Lugnuts in the third inning as the game was finally stopped after light rain fell right after the game started. Now in its fourth year, lightning didn’t strike twice or even once, but the rains fell in the third inning again and canceled the game. But with ticket sales at 350, I was amazed at the many compliments, thanks you’s and I would be willing to help next years comments I received despite the fact that we didn’t get to enjoy the game for very long. But then again, this is really not about the game. Latino Day with the Lugnuts is about the story of how quite a few hard working young families moved to Michigan from other States, many from the fields, many not knowing English and no one knowing what they would find. If you showed up at Cooley Law Stadium on Sunday, August 23, 2015 you found Johnny Vasquez and Friends jamming in front of the stadium. The on the field pregame festivities began with Ballet Maria Luz and their beautiful display of dancers and outfits. Next up was Benny Huerta, Tony Rodriguez, and Benjamin Benavides throwing out the first pitch. We finished at the Nuthouse led by DJ Victor El Fuego Vasquez with the start of Latino Fest. It was a fun filled day and despite the rain, I am not sure too many were disappointed. The game brought a nostalgic feel to it with the memories of those Old Timers who showed up and those who have passed away.The weekends of heading to the Lansing parks of Sycamore, Municipal Park, Washington Ave., bring fond memories to many of us. Traveling to Lake Odessa, St. Johns, Eaton Rapids, Jackson, Charlotte, Adrian to mention a few. Teams such as the Cardinals, Aztecas, Astros, Blue Sox, Los Merchants, Los Bravos, Los Indians to name a few. As we look back it was a magical time for us “kids”. For those families who made the journey to Michigan only to return back to Texas, California and other states, you may have better weather then us Michiganders, but you missed out on the celebration of life that started in 1948 that we got to enjoy each Sunday at the ballparks. Whether it be the game itself, the seeing of compadres long before sharing pictures with them on Facebook became commonplace, to the after game picnics that finished a day long stay at the park. It was a sharing of culture, familia and pride in who we were and who we would become. It continued til 1979 and today still plays out every Sunday with the Latin American Coed Softball League and roughly about 500 people each at Benjamin Davis Park. The Latino community last year bought 370 tickets and 170 t-shirts to Latino Night with the Lugnuts which took me 6 weeks to sell. This year, wanting to work more efficiently, I promoted it heavily through Facebook and with El Chayo Cevantes from WKAR’s Ondas Con Chayo during a 8 day blitz, I sold 350 tickets and 200 shirts in those 8 days which some might say is a credit to me, but I say its a testament to the many families who not only see but feel a connection to those old baseball leagues. Whether it be our families who played or we as kids who had fun getting to know others we still know til this day now that we are hitting our 50’s and 60’s (I am 50 years old and counting), we remember a day when our families were younger, fuller, and perhaps even stronger as the deterioration of the family has hit every community rich or poor. Did we really realize what those on the ball field really have to deal with? They came to Michigan looking for work, and left behind families including their own parents across the country. The racism they must have faced because of the color of their skin. The back breaking work of the fields here, the weather (snow, are you kidding?) and then there was families to be raised. These families laid the groundwork for the many of us to make a life here. I have already heard some improvements that we need to make in order to bring more players in, and to make aware to the many families that this day exists not only as a tribute to those Old Timers who took the field Sunday, but also to a Latino community who took the time to celebrate a time when our families were young, and for many, our families were still alive taking their swings on the field. I still remember Benny Huerta showing me how to hold a bat, Mario Montalvo teaching me how to field a ground ball, Lee Lopez telling me to get in there and don’t back out of the batters box even though I was only about 7 years old. He was fiesty. Wedo Montalvo’s deep voice comes to mind. I so miss those days. Next year comes some changes as we will move the game to Friday night at 7:05 and along with the fireworks brings a bigger audience as more then 7,000-8,000 usually pack Cooley Law Stadium. Saturday will bring a Festival that I have already begun to put a team together for. Sunday will also bring a yet to be announced fundraiser making it a Cafecito Caliente Weekend. For the many who say, “Sein, I would love to help” well, stay tuned as I will be forming a team to put everything together as a community. We as Latinos, really need to push forward and build what other cities like Saginaw, Grand Rapids, and Toledo have done for years. We need to set aside our differences but that article is for another day. For now, much thanks to all those folks who made things easier for me. Diane Hernandez-Wojda who helped with the planning, Fabian Benavides Photography who provided most of the pictures you see. Antonella Benavides who stepped in to provide a second camera for the day. Ballet Maria Luz, led by Maria Luz Salas Arambula who always seems to wow us with her choreographed dances. Johnny Vasquez for offering to step in and play for free to help support Latino Day with the Lugnuts and brought people near the stadium who never would have showed up. Corinna Salinaz who stepped in before game time to sell tickets and shirts when I was needed elsewhere and then turned things over to Juanita Garcia and Ashley Garcia who sold during the game. Alexis Rosado from WLNS Channel 6 who came in, interview us and then gave us a few minutes on the 6 News, much appreciated my friend. To Connie Torres and her staff at Sir Pizza in Old Town as I sit there taking up space selling shirts and tickets each year. El Chayo Cervantes from WKAR’s Ondas Con Chayo gave me some good air time with announcements on it, and a live interview. Victor Vasquez who helped put together what is the beginning of that Latino Fest with an after party at the Nuthouse by providing us with his Dj skils. We had quite a few little ones there as we tried to keep things with a family feel to it. With the rains, came the disappointment of not being able to hear the beautiful voice of Amanda Cena who was to sing God Bless America in the seventh inning. I have already promised her she gets the first offer for both the National Anthem and God Bless America in 2016. And most importantly, thank you Lansing for supporting what I feel we need to do more of and that is recognize and honor the past generations that came before us who laid the foundation for many of us to live our lives here in Michigan. Latino Day with the Lugnuts is a beautiful event. Again, it was never about baseball. Its all about Familia!