On April 5th , 1987 Juan Antonio “Bobby” Salamanca, recognized by the Pan-American Baseball Confederation (COPABE), died in Havana as the best sports narrator in Latin America.
Salamanca was born in the capital’s neighborhood of Luyanó in 1932, in the bosom of a family with low economic resources, something that he insisted so that he could only study primary school, since from the age of 14 he had to dedicate himself to work, in trades as dissimilar as a bread delivery man, winemaker, barber and charcoal burner.
As his physical conditions were not ideal for practicing exercises in his childhood, since he was small, thin and suffered from asthma, he quickly felt inclination toward the narration that at that time hoarded the most sports information in several capital stations.
In an interview published in the sports supplement LPV, Juventud Rebelde, on February 23rd , 1987, less than two months after stomach cancer took him to eternity, he had pointed out, “I always wanted to be more than a baseball player, commentator. . The first time I went to the La Tropical stadium I walked all the stands, I went down around the initial line and I got to see Sánchez Diago, the narrator of the moment “.
It was a stage in which he dedicated his free time to reading magazines and books specialized in sports, as well as being a lover of poetry and music, especially tango. With his few incomes he managed to pay the course of the School of Broadcasters, which he approved with outstanding notes and then obtained a professional position at Radio Marianao. Thus began one of the most popular voices of sports narration and one of the best chroniclers of the flat press of our country.
Creator of a descriptive style of his own, in addition to a deep commentator, Bobby was a legacy of quality that contributed to the baseball vocabulary an exquisite Cuban-expressions, which climaxed on August 26th , 1969 at the World Championship held at the Quisqueya Stadium in Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, when Cuba defeated the United States two races by one, with highlights for the Matanzas Gaspar Pérez, Félix Isasi and Rigoberto Rosique.
That day, Salamanca turned the baseball field into a cane field, as noted by the writer from Santiago, Rogelio Letusé, in his book Aquí se habla de Grandes, “to give his popular contribution to the effort of our people to reach ten million tons of sugar, that had been proposed.
” Among the terms used that made history and that the young people of today did not listen to, they are: brigade chief, who was the director of the team; strike, for sugar; “Cane Sugar cutter”, was the batter; the bat became mocha; nobody on base, keep it clean; if they were full, the tandems are full; punch, three strokes of mocha and threw it pa’la tonga; the faul, was a caguaso; if the batter hit a jit, it was a reed; if he cleaned the bases with the blow, he did not leave cane in the head, nor bud in the cane; the central one was the jon; to the substituted pitcher, they applied the alzadora.
Then I would create other terms that also stuck in the liking of the fans as they were: the fish took the bait; he fell in the pan and goodbye Lolita of my life or the elegant nicknames with which he baptized the players as they were El Señor Pelotero, referring to Luis Giraldo Casanova; pass you, Mr. Jonrón, in allusion to Pedro José Rodríguez and the Three Musketeers: Wilfredo Sánchez, Rigoberto Rosique and Félix Isasi, among the most mentioned.
His quality as a sports narrator prevented him from further developing his journalistic talent, although his writings in Venceremos news, by Radio Liberación; in the newspaper Noticia de Hoy, with a nice section in which he used the pseudonym Salpiquito and in the newspaper Granma, in his column Occurred in the stadium, they are recognized as jewels of Cuban sports journalism.
You cannot forget his non-exempt Chronicles, a gift from each morning on Radio Rebelde during his last eleven months of life, which he transmitted from his own sickbed in his home and which were like a goodbye to the listeners and readers, since they were published in the Trabajadores newspaper.
This outstanding narrator and journalist also contributed the so-called JAS system, created to scientifically measure the performance of baseball players and which is used by the statistics department of INDER. Salamanca had to live 55 years, very few for who made the profession an art, very few for so much talent.