Hector Ramirez was a quiet man. He was the type of individual who preferred to react to what you were saying rather than to offer suggestions of his own. He wore glasses with thick, blue-colored lenses that tended to hide his eyes. While he sat and considered various proposals, the entertainment and carnival agent would smoke a short, thin cigar that resembled a cigarette.
“What I can do for you is to put you into some of the larger cities. They’re the ones with regular stadiums. Most of my business is on the West Coast so I think you’d be better off there.”
“How about the small towns?” asked Rainbow, who felt a little out of place in the tenth-floor plush office that had a spectacular view of the ocean.
“No margin for me. Too unstable. You can pick that up a few days at a time if you want. I suggest starting your own list of places and people willing to accommodate you. But the real money is in the larger towns. I can get you three to five thousand dollar guarantees for a series in the bigger towns––but some of those little places will only pull in few hundred, tops. It’s not worth my time, you understand…”
Ramirez was somewhat pessimistic but agreed to fix things up. Johnny Rae had taken care of ten dates around the Mexico City area. With a little luck, the receipts from Mexico City should pay their bills for a while. The Texan booking agent also gave Rainbow some tips on where to find more talent. The advice turned up two more ball players, one of which – Roy Carnes – happened also to be an auto mechanic by profession.
The last word of Hector Ramirez was that they should watch out for local political graft “La Mordida” and small time hustlers or “paracaidistas.” Rainbow nodded his head.
Rainbow took his elite eight through Houston and west to San Antonio where he found a Venezuelan center fielder who seemed to be able to catch everything hit into the outfield. His only drawback appeared to be a rather short temper. But he was likeable enough, and had such baseball potential, that they could not afford to let him get away. They now could field a team and headed south to Laredo to play a few easy games and to become a barnstorming club.
It was in Laredo that they played their first series of games as a unit. They mostly squared off against Mexican teams and came through it splitting the eight games they managed to fit in between Friday and Monday. The Elite Giants were getting experience. They also signed their final two players, both Mexican, who had been standouts on the teams they played against.
The group was now complete, but it was making too many mistakes on the field. Rainbow decided to arrange four games in Monterrey for the next weekend. These would be for money. They were getting short on cash very quickly. For the first part of the week Rainbow worked the team to its limit and got the players performing, more or less, at an acceptable level.
When they got to Monterrey, they immediately were impressed by the city. The team arrived Thursday afternoon and made a trek to the town square, Zaragoza Plaza, in order to promote their weekend games. They had printed up handbills that they handed out describing their team. The ball players, dressed in their new uniforms, moved in groups in front of the old cathedral and around the Palaclo Municipal, smiling and exhorting the locals to come and see them.
The people were friendly and seemed quite interested in baseball. It was a town that took recreation seriously. This was a festive city that sported bullfights and fiestas. Their people knew how to work and play—each with vigor.
Rainbow was surprised to see how many people were congregated in the town square until he realized that an event was going on that very evening. It was a band concert that was to occur right in the Zaragoza. Rainbow watched with anticipation as the musicians tuned and prepared. Most of the older people sat down in various shady spots even though it was early evening. The young people milled about.
Rainbow sat down at a cafe with Pedro Gonzales, his Mexican- American third baseman, to watch the festivities. The aging manager had sent the rest of his team to the smelting factories to spread the word and to hand out their leaflets.
As Billy Beauchamp sat back in his wrought iron chair with a local beer in hand, he realized that he had made his move. The team was a reality. Whether it would be a success was still to be seen, but he had his eleven players. All that was left was to see whether they would work well as a unit and put on a pleasing show for the people.
Rainbow took a short sip of beer and let the world come to him. The former legendary pitcher in the Negro Leagues thought back to earlier times when he barnstormed south of the border. Generally, he had hooked up with an ‘All Star’ team that went to Cuba, where baseball is more important than life itself. There they would play Cuban teams and white teams formed by Major Leaguers who wanted to pick up extra cash. Sometimes they would go to Mexico, but they never hit a full itinerary. Usually they would just play a couple of cities and head south to Panama and Venezuela.
Title: Rainbow Curve
Author: Michael Boylan
Buy a ticket for a bus ride taking you from North to Central to South America and a boat ride to the Caribbean along with a traveling baseball team. Discover baseball in all its mythical allure: Rainbow Curve is a compelling tale about race, politics, corrupting power and one man’s courage to stand up against it.
An aging baseball player, his multi-cultural teammates, a domineering manager, and a South American drug lord—are all brought together in Rainbow Curve, a gripping novel that explores the international baseball scene. Moving from training camps in Sun City, Arizona, to Wrigley Field in Chicago, to a mountain citadel in Columbia, author Michael Boylan expertly draws connections between America’s favorite pastime, cultural power, and ethical choice.
-Linda Furgerson Selzer, Associate Professor of English/ Penn State University.
Michael Boylan writes like a true baseball fan. Rainbow Curve is a novel filled with more than 9 innings of history. From barnstorming and tales about the Negro Leagues to the Chicago Cubs, Boylan examines the life of players on and off the field. Bo Mellan, Rainbow Billy Beauchamp and Buddy Beal are just some of the characters who give this novel a high batting average. Baseball is not just a game about balls and strikes, it’s also about economics, race, youth and growing old. Rainbow Curve is a reminder of why we sing “God Bless America” at the ball park.
- E. Ethelbert Miller, Literary Activist and author of The 5th Inning.
Michael Boylan is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Marymount University. He is the author of 26 books and over 120 articles in Philosophy and Literature. Details can be found at michaelboylan.net.