Felipe Alou: “The Alou family deserves better than to be forgotten”
In all humility, Felipe Alou does not suffer at all from not being in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. However, he believes that he and his younger brothers Matty and Jesus, both deceased, should be admitted together.
“I don't think Felipe Alou deserves to be inducted, I don't think Matty deserves it, nor Jesus, but the three together, yes, ruled the former Expos manager, during an interview granted in margin of the Gala Expos Fest, last weekend, in a hotel in Laval. This family deserves better than to be forgotten.”
Vladimir Guerrero and Felipe Alou at the Gala Expos Fest 2023.
Aged 87, soon to be 88 , the ex-player and coach is physically diminished. He moves around with a cane, but the man who shares his life between Florida and the Dominican Republic has lost none of his honesty or his fascinating memory.
“As three, we played for nearly 50 seasons in major league baseball, it’s been almost half a century,” said the man of Dominican origin, recalling the careers of his brothers and him. I'm not embarrassed and I'm not afraid to say it: we were three good players. It wouldn't be a favor for us. There should be a mechanism by which all three could be inducted at the same time. We have been good citizens and there is no doping related to our family, absolutely nothing negative.”
< p>Felipe alone played 17 seasons, mostly with the San Francisco Giants and Braves, both in Milwaukee and Atlanta. It was in San Francisco that the Alou brothers, in 1963, simultaneously played in the outfield for a major league baseball team.
“I sometimes joke that to have three brothers on the same team at the same time, you first have to have three boys in a family and all three must play baseball, noted the one who was the manager of the 1992 Expos. to 2001. On top of all that, all three have to be good and play on the same team. There are too many ingredients to pull together for that to happen again.”
To back up his point, the former Expos manager mentions Matty's career batting averages (.307) in passing. and of Jesus (.280). His was .286.
“Imagine if three American brothers had done that, I think that episode in the history of major league baseball would have been put forward more, but we were only three Dominicans at the time,” commented Felipe.
Beyond the exploits of the Alou family in the field -and that's not counting Moises, son of Felipe-, he must consider the three brothers as great pioneers for Latino players. Some even go so far as to identify Felipe Alou as the “Jackie Robinson of Latinos”.
Moises Alou, with his father Felipe, in March 1992.
“I was part of that, but the first person to consider before me is Roberto Clemente, Felipe decided. He was the spokesperson for Latinos, this black player from Puerto Rico was talking about our situation. I protested the mistreatment of Latino players myself, but I didn't do anything that Clemente wasn't already doing.”
“We had the same vision and felt the same responsibility to get things done,” he added. Initially, we were considered inferior to Americans and not only vis-à-vis white people, but also vis-à-vis African Americans. We knew we were as good as everyone else, but some American media didn't respect us as much as we deserved. Some laughed at our accent, but we came to the States to play baseball, not to talk.”
Too sad to go fishing
While living through the death of his younger brother Jesus last month, Felipe Alou also vividly remembers the day Clemente died on December 31, 1972 in a plane crash for a planned humanitarian mission in Nicaragua.
“It was a Sunday,” he said. That morning, I was in the Dominican Republic, I was going fishing. I had a radio in my car and when I heard the news of his death I stopped on the side of the road and cried…I turned around and drove back to the House. I was too sad to go fishing.”
No one has ever forgotten Roberto Clemente and no one will ever forget the Alou brothers either, although a joint induction in Cooperstown seems like the best way to s sure.
- Felipe Alou wore the colors of the Atlanta Braves when he finished fifth in the race for the Nationals MVP in 1966. Roberto Clemente won, ahead of Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays. Alou also received more votes than his legendary Braves teammate Hank Aaron.