[Here's a passage from my recent book paying homage to Tony O. I hope you like it. The book is available on Amazon Kindle (e-book or paperback), or you can find it at my website here: http://curtdeberg.com.]
We all need heroes. Other than my dad, Minnesota Twins baseball stars Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew were my heroes. They always showed grace under pressure, even when badly injured. They were courageous, and preferred to show their talent by action, not words. They were not superheroes, though; they had their faults, and I liked that. This made them human.
I was attracted to Tony-O and Harmon for obvious reasons. Tony-O was the best pure combination hitter, for both power and singles, I ever saw play. He could spray the ball anywhere, even if the pitch was out of the strike zone. If he liked it, he hit it. Harmon could crush tremendous, rainbow home runs into the aqua-blue heaven of Metropolitan Stadium's upper deck, in left field.
As a boy, I collected their baseball cards, read books and articles about them, and bought the Twins yearbook. I didn’t want to know certain things about them—I needed to know everything. Where did they live? What foods did they eat? Did they have any hobbies? Did they read great books? What were their families like? Did they have sons or daughters my age? How did they become so good at baseball? Did they have any advice for a ten-year-old from Rock Rapids, Iowa?
I wasn’t just a fan. I was a baseball fanatic, in need of one or two more heroes. Kind of like Manolin needed Santiago. The (somewhat) fictional story you are about to read is a tribute to two men whose love for Cuba and baseball was beyond question: Ernest Hemingway and Tony Oliva.