Jai-Alai Chalk Talk Hall of Fame

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Re(1): 50's pro's, any 60's?

Posted on March 20, 2012 at 00:13:29 AM by 4decadepro

When I played in the '68 Olympics there was a backcourter named Salazar playing partidos in Acapulco. He was 62 years old and legendary. All the players called him "Viejo Salazar". I watched him play in 4 partidos during the week I spent in Acapulco. He basically would just plant himself in one spot, walk 2-3 steps to catch the pelota in the air or let it come to the frontcourter for the rebote. When I began pro play a few months later in Miami, Romo and Geno and all the players that had come up from Mexico had stories about him. The Mendi bothers knew him well also. He was still playing in Acapulco 2 years later at 64 when I went back to play Acapulco & Mexico City...played the same, but just walked 1-2 steps. Unbelievably, he came to Miami the following season and was the Ball BOY!!! Pedro Mir would get so mad at him because back then the last game had to start by midnight and while Pedro was trying to speed up the pace by limiting pelota choice and banning practice serves...Salazar was in slow mode the whole time. But he would still get out and practice. True story...Romo can vouch for it. Sadly, that was his last time on the cancha that year. He passed away a few months after the season ended.

Also Roque played in Daytona while I played in Miami. He was 57 when he finally retired...another Mexican well known by the Romo and Mendi brothers.

As far as my thoughts go about playing in your 50's or 60's...the mind still wants to believe it's possible, but one knee and one shoulder say differently. I stay in shape, eat right and weigh 12 lbs under my last playing weight of 190 lbs. I feel spry, youthful, great...never had to be surgically repaired but to compete against guys in their 20's, 30's, 40's is just not reality. My hat goes off to Scott and Corky, both having undergone some surgical work...good friends of mine. My dreams in my sleep are still predominently geared towards my Jai-Alai days...so the love and passion are still there after a 26 year career.

BTW, pertaining to the post below about my being about age 48 when I quit playing...not quite. My last 6 years were some of my best playing days. My last night produced 2 wins and a place. I did not retire due to my age...I just saw the writing on Jai-Alai's wall...it could not go on in the manner in which I grew up and knew it much longer. I had just signed a new contract 2 weeks earlier and something told me it was time to move into another life phase. 4decadepro simply refers to playing in the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.


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