“I’m sorry about your friend.” Is what I said to my friend and co-worker Alex Lopez. I was referring to Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez the legendary Spanish-language radio voice of the Miami Marlins. Alex sets up all the remote broadcasts for the Spanish language play by play for the Florida Marlins. He has worked side by side with Felo for the past 20 years.
Several of my friends and co-workers started posting pictures of Felo on Facebook the other night. I knew this was not a good sign and I sadly told my wife “I think a little old man from my work passed away.” I didn’t really know Felo, I would always say hello to him in the hall or in the radio studio but that was the extent of our relationship. Our language barrier kept us from any further conversation but I knew he was a gentle soul from his polite demeanor.
Felo was 94 years old when he passed away. He fell out of the Florida Marlin’s team bus and hit his head in Philadelphia in April and was later transported back to Miami where he passed.
I knew he was a popular baseball announcer but I had no idea how famous he was in the baseball community. He started his career in Cuba in 1945 calling baseball games and boxing matches. Calling baseball games was his passion since he was a child.
The famous Zen philosopher Alan Watts said “And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is.”
Felo was a master of his art and his childhood passion is what kept him working long past his English Speaking contemporaries. Following that passion is what allowed him to live a full life doing what he loved almost to the day he died. And like Alan Watts said, he received a good fee for doing it.
He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001 and a recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award. My friend Alex told me that where ever Felo went, a line of fans would gather to get his legendary autograph. Think of the scope of his work, he called 32 World Series and 40 Carribean World series.
He has called games that have included almost every legendary baseball player in the last 70 years and he has rubbed shoulders with the greats like Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.
Rafael ‘Felo” Raimirez was a legend in baseball and broadcasting, he lived a rich and rewarding life. We should all be so lucky. He was a true inspiration to many.
My friend Alex Lopez is a fellow podcaster, his original show dcubanbeat features interviews with Cuban musicians and features Cuban music. It can be found here http://dcubanbeat.libsyn.com/