Ruben Amaro Jr.'s first memories of his grandfather involve his long walks during the family's Christmas vacations in Veracruz, Mexico. Amaro said he would wake up and check if "Buelo" was back from those 10-mile treks and wonder what he was up to alone in the dark for so long.
"As a 6-year-old, that was astonishing to me," said Amaro, the Phillies' general manager. "I asked my father, 'What does he do on those walks?' And my dad said, 'He thinks.'"
Amaro had a chance to remember Santos Amaro in a different way Saturday, as his grandfather was inducted posthumously by the Veterans Committee into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic. Santos Amaro, born in Cuba in 1908, played and managed in both Cuba and Mexico before passing away in 2001.
"It is a great honor for me and the entire Amaro family to accept this wonderful award on behalf of my extraordinary grandfather," Ruben Amaro Jr. said Saturday. "Santos was a kind and gentle giant of a man who often presented himself in a very regal way. I was in awe of his size and stature and his grace. Unfortunately, I never saw him play, but I can only imagine the grace in which he ran the bases or fielded a fly ball or took a majestic swing while driving the ball into a gap."
Amaro was previously honored as a member of the Hall of Fame in Cuba and Mexico. His son, Ruben Amaro, enjoyed an 11-year Major League career with the Cardinals, Phillies, Yankees and Angels, and his grandson, Ruben Amaro Jr., spent eight years in the Majors before joining the Phillies' front office and eventually ascending to the rank of general manager.
Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted at the induction ceremony that he didn't have many stories to tell about his grandfather, but he heard often from his father how Santos Amaro was a kind man, "a gentleman through and through." He attended Ruben Amaro's Major League debut with the Cardinals in 1958, flying in from Mexico to see his son play at Busch Stadium alongside a baseball legend, Stan Musial.
"You have to remember that Santos had played in Cuba in the '20s and '30s, where the facilities and clubhouses were the grandest and classiest and most state of the art in the world," Amaro Jr. said. "At that time, Busch was a bit of a hole in the wall, and when 'Buelo' walked in to greet my father, he was taken aback.
"With hands clasped behind his back and eyebrows raised, he asked my father, 'Is this the big league clubhouse? Well, good luck, my son. Play hard!'"