25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Play Ball and Strike Out!
Twenty five years ago there were no Chicago Cub fans in San Pedro, nor did we hear of the Red Sox or the New York Yankees. We had none of that because we did not have television to follow baseball nor the World Series. We did get some news of sports and baseball players made mention of the great hitter, Babe Ruth.
What we did have, and very popular for that matter, were a lot of local baseball sports on the island. Actually we had baseball from the forties, but in the fifties and sixties, it was the number one sport on the island. Everybody that remembers the sport of baseball will remember two great teams- Los Halcones (the Hawks) and Los Rebeldes (the Rebels). Los Halcones had a lovely uniform with a hawk embroidered on the front. All players had uniforms just as in the major leagues, except without shoes for there were absolutely no shoes on the island, much less tennis shoes or football boots. Los Halcones was comprised of great players like Erlindo and Mario Graniel, Pete Graniel, Armando Graniel, Alfredito Alamilla, Hildo Valdez, Guillermo Nuñez (deceased), among others. Los Rebeldes had players like Milo Paz, Romel Gomez, Narciso Valdez, and others. I think that Los Halcones were more popular with the crowd and won more games. They played a lot of local friendly games, but the irony was that they were not too friendly. Many games ended in fights and exchange of blows.
There was great rivalry between these two teams. As I said before, there were many brawls and fists thrown at the end of games. Many times these fights resulted into gang fights during dances, which also ended as a result of their rivalry. Girlfriends of Los Halcones would not dance with any boy from Los Rebeldes and vice versa. Young children also took sides and had many fights in school because of the same. At bars, if there was a heavy presence of Rebeldes, the other team would not dare enter. Despite all of this, there were still games scheduled regularly.
The winner of these two teams reserved the rights to represent San Pedro either in X’calak, Mexico, or Corozal or Belize City for important matches. Teams and a host of fans traveled regularly to X’calak just north of San Pedro for friendly matches at least five times a year, and they visited San Pedro just as often. After a great game, the host team also hosted a dance for the visitors. This was perhaps San Pedro’s greatest and most popular entertainment, besides dances. When it was “play ball day”, the entire village went to the plaza (now the old soccer field) and cheered for their team. Then the entire village went to the dance.
There were many great players in San Pedro, but the pitchers are perhaps those who stand out. There were Mr. Florentino Gonzalez, Jose Gonzalez, Severo Guerrero, Wilfredo Alamilla, Alfredito Alamilla and Erlindo Graniel. Great catchers were Pelon Graniel, Willy Graniel (deceased), Jairo Perez (deceased), Armando Graniel, Santiago Vasquez, and others. Occasionally there was a home run, which means that the ball was hit into the lagoon. But whether home run or not, when the umpire called “Play Ball”, all of San Pedro was at the Plaza to cheer for San Pedro or for Los Halcones and Los Rebeldes, who were like the Chicago Cubs to us today. Sadly, no more baseball today as we had twenty five years ago.