NEW YORK -- Luis Rojas is having a great season as manager of the Mets, a team that is in first place in the National League East entering Father’s Day.
While Rojas credits his players for competing their way to the top of the heap, he also gave kudos to his father, former Major League player and manager Felipe Alou, who taught him more than just the game of baseball.
“My father is my university of life, not only on baseball, but he taught me a lot of things,” Rojas said. “He taught me how to be a good son, how to be a good father. He taught me how to be a good baseball man.
“Tomorrow, I will pay him a call. I will thank him for everything. More than anything, he always raised us with the word of God. He wanted all of us to be humble. He wanted me to be a good man before a good baseball man. One leads to the other.”
If one looks at Alou’s résumé, it's easy to understand why Rojas has received sound advice. In the 1960s, Alou was one of the best outfielders in the NL with the Giants and Braves. He is a three-time All-Star and twice led the Majors in hits (1966 and '68). Alou is one of three brothers -- Matty and Jesus -- to find success in the big leagues as position players.
In the 1990s, Alou was one of the better managers in the Major Leagues, guiding the Montreal Expos to the best record in baseball in '94 and earning the NL Manager of the Year Award. And let’s not forget that Alou led the 100-win Giants to the postseason in 2003.
Today, the 86-year-old Alou works for the Giants as a special assistant to baseball operations, but he watches Rojas from afar. No doubt, the father is proud of his son.
“When my son was born, I was proud of him. I’m proud of all of my children,” Alou said via telephone. “As long as they are respectful, good citizens, that’s all I want.
“I believe Luis is an intelligent baseball person. I believe he represents the family tradition. You don’t get proud of your boy because he is in first place. There are more noble areas you have to be proud of. I believe the managerial thing is secondary.”
According to Alou, Rojas was a “baseball-crazy kid.” His passion for the game was second to none.
“He has a passion for the game. He has passion for winning. He has a passion for respecting people, including you guys, the media. I believe he has a passion for giving the right answers, and he doesn’t compromise with his answers,” Alou said. “If I am proud of anything, I’m proud of everything I just told you. It’s not about winning and losing or winning manager of the year. To me, that is secondary.”
Alou doesn’t know how long the Mets will maintain their aggressiveness on the field or their pole position in the standings. As he pointed out, the season is still in its early days.
“There [are a lot] of games left. This is a marathon,” Alou said. “… Luis Rojas has been able to weather the storm with what he has now. I give great credit to the [coaching] staff because there were some hiccups.”