May 20, 2009 > Meet Mr. Beisbol
Meet Mr. Beisbol
Amaury Pi-Gonzalez: the "Voice of the A's" for all Spanish broadcasts
By Marty Freidman
Amaury Pi-Gonzalez has two great loves: the U.S.A. and baseball.
As a Cuban-American, he is absolutely on fire for his adopted country. He emigrated, or escaped, from Castro's Cuba in 1961. Pi-Gonzalez summed it up: "Like Superman, I left the planet before it exploded." Currently, Pi-Gonzalez resides in Fremont.
Baseball he feels, is in Cuba's blood. When he first heard that Castro played baseball, he replied "So what. Eleven million Cubans play baseball." Pi-Gonzalez played as hard as any of them. Thinking back to his early years, he described himself as a hustler, a little "Cuban Pete Rose." Not a homerun hitter, Pi Gonzalez belted lots of line drives, singles and doubles.
He's seen it all
Beginning his career with the legendary 1977 Athletics, Pi-Gonzalez also broadcast games for our own Giants, along with the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels. He also covered two World Series in 2001 and 2002 for Fox Sports International.
Pi-Gonzalez compares baseball to the words in an old Frank Sinatra song about life: "Shut down in April. Come back in May."
"In baseball," he pointed out, "If you're really good you get one hit out of every three at bats, which means that you're a failure twice.
"Like life," Pi-Gonzalez explained, "baseball is a day-to-day affair. One day you pitch a no hitter, next day you get ripped with seven runs scored against you ... Most people struggle through life but, like Chicago Cubs fans, waiting for a World Series win for over a century, they never give up."
Must be informative ... as well as entertaining
Pi-Gonzalez knows that his listeners expect more than the cold facts such as who is at bat, and how many strikes and balls. "Baseball," as he put it, "is an historic sport. You can't just say this guy is 0-7. You have to inform your audience that on this day, for example, DiMaggio hit three homeruns. You need to get your listeners thinking, too, with questions like who was better, Mantle or Mays?"
Pi-Gonzalez won't mince words on the action on the field, either, and his listeners expect nothing less. For instance, he'll never hesitate to say when he thinks a pitcher should be yanked, if the ump missed a call, or how he could simply not believe that great catch.
Pi-Gonzalez sees considerable potential for the team with several future stars barely 21 years old along with an excellent farm system.
With one exception, he has nothing but good things to say about the team. Pi-Gonzalez finds the players very accessible with no big egos. And he applauds the owner, Lew Wolf, for his community involvement. Beyond that he feels that the team has one of the best general managers in the game, Billy Beane. Give him 50 million dollars and he'll compete with teams with 10 times that amount to spend.
Yet, with all this, he stresses how disappointed he was that the A's new ballpark was never built in Fremont. "Barely 200 protestors showed up," mumbled a disappointed Pi Gonzalez, "and I feel that the team should've continued with their plans."
Baseball will go back to the fundamentals
For starters, some of those million-dollar-a-year men can't even bunt, Pi-Gonzalez feels. Today, baseball needs and must to go back to the basics: hit and run, bunt, squeeze play and sacrifice. Too bad we can't bring back a team like the immortal "Gas House Gang" of the 1930's who could do it all.
It's no surprise that the Japanese won the last two World Baseball Classics using those timeless skills without hitting a homerun.
Pi-Gonzalez: a legend in his own right
Mr. Beisbol is the third most senior Spanish announcer in the US.
Conducting Major League Broadcasts for over 31 years, Pi-Gonzalez was inducted into the Cuban Sports Hall of Fame in Miami in 2004, and the Hispanic heritage Baseball museum in San Francisco that same year. He's also been nominated every year since 2002, for the Ford Frick Broadcasters Award in Baseball's Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, N.Y.