I was touched by the news in the foreign press, recently, commenting on the welcome under the American Cuban Adjustment Act of the slugger Agustín Marquetti* who, already in his old age, chose the wisest decision: “What I have left to live for will be smiling,” like the lyrics of a famous bolero.
Marquetti, a glory of Cuban baseball, became almost anonymous after his retirement. To earn a living, because his retirement was barely enough to survive, he started to operate as a taxi (under the table) the Lada car he earned with his bat. He told me that on many occasions, when he was stopped by the police who intended to fine him, they would ask for his license and identity card. He would see the shame on the faces of the cops and, apologetically, they would ask for his autograph for son.
Sometimes he would work as a driver for a beloved priest from Santiago when he came to the capital, who would stay in a home. Those were the days before the visit of Pope John Paul II. Marquetti came every day very early to pick him up, to take him where he needed to go. Leaning out the balcony, I asked the former player to come up to share coffee with us. When he saw our breakfast table, laid with coffee and bread with butter (because of the special visit), could not contain his wonder and ask the following comment: “Noooo! I can’t remember when I last saw butter.”
This moved me, because that someone who was the glory of our sport would make that comment was really to feel shame. Then the poet Guillen came to mind and I said to myself: “The master should be ashamed!”
So when I saw the news on the net, I could not but feel happy for him, his children, who finally are at his side, for a reunion with all his former teammates from the Industriales, and because our great baseball player was finally to lead a worthy life, enjoying the honors he deserves, the comfort and opportunities that were denied to him here. Congratulations friend, and success in your new venture! It is never too late if the happiness is good!
*Translator’s note: Marquetti, now 65, went to Florida to visit his son in 2010 and recently decided to stay there. Under the Cuban Adjustment Act he was allowed to establish permanent residence. He has opened the Miami Sharks baseball academy for children in Miami.
March 2 2012