Ruben Amaro Jr. Looks to Bring Another Phillies Title to his Hometown
For Rubén Amaro Jr., baseball has always meant the Philadelphia Phillies – and this postseason he's looking to add another title to his already impressive resume.
The dry-erase board in the Phillies clubhouse read '10 más' after their game one victory over St. Louis in the NLDS on Saturday afternoon.
Ten more wins – and after their Game 3 victory Tuesday night to take a 2-1 series lead, only nine to go – and the city parties yet again.
After all, the Phillies general manager has already caught a glimpse of what winning in the City of Brotherly Love is all about.
When Amaro was young, he handed out bats to future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and baseball's all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, on the 1980 team that won the World Series. He did all this while his dad, Ruben Amaro Sr., was coaching first base.
- Rubén Amaro Jr., MLB’s Lone Latino GM, Gets Extension
- Christian Lopez Carves Place In Yankees Lore With Return of Derek Jeter’s 3,000th Hit
- Faces of the Immigrant Archive Project
- Our American Dream: LA Dodgers Announcer Jaime Jarrín is Señor Baseball
- Salon de la Fama: Retired Latino Baseball Players Honored
- Latinos in the Steroid Era
- Adrian Beltre Belts Three As Rangers Advance to ALCS
- Miguel Cabrera, Free of Drama, Tries to Lead Tigers Past Yankees
- Best Sports Pix of the Week
- Gloria Estefan, Ozzie Guillen, Gauchos and The Hispanic Vote: It’s The Week in Latino News
- 9/11 Stories Ten Years Later
- Twitter Terrorists, NJ Disses Ecuador Prez and The X Factor: It’s The Week In Latino News
- Facebook’s Timeline: It’ll Change Your (Virtual) Life
The next year the Phillies came up short again, and in his last season as a batboy, the Phillies lost in the Fall Classic.
Amaro, who eventually played for his hometown team, cheered on some bad Phillies teams.
Most general managers in the game aren't at the helm of the team they cheered as a kid and later played for in their hometown. That makes it extra special for Amaro.
"Well, what makes me very proud is how the fans have been and how supportive they've been," Amaro Jr. told Fox News Latino. "I've been through years when I was growing up as a fan when the fans were extraordinary in the mid 70s and late 70s and early 80s.
"And then we had some trouble," he continued. "We had some tough years."
Amaro added that fans of this version of the team have contributed to the winning environment.
"When I was playing we didn't have the same kind of support but for them to be supporting this team the way they have, it makes my job a lot easier obviously," Amaro said. "It gives me a great deal of pride that we've created a situation here now where players really want to come play in Philadelphia because of the atmosphere that they created."
Management decided to hand Amaro Jr. the keys to the team after they won the World Series under former GM Pat Gillick in 2008, becoming baseball's second Latino general manager at the time.
But with Omar Minaya, now a year removed from his duties with the New York Mets, gone, Amaro Jr. now stands all alone.
"I took my cues from Omar Minaya, really. He kind of was a pioneer for us," said Amaro Jr., who was a Phillie for two stints from 1992 to 93 and 1996 to 1998.
"The fact that right now, unfortunately, I guess I'm the only Latin American GM. I'm hoping there's more to come," he said. "I take a great deal of pride in the fact [that] that's my background and my heritage."
Rickie Ricardo, the Phillies' Spanish-language radio broadcaster alongside Danny Martínez on WUBA, is proud of the job Amaro Jr. has done in his third year with the Phillies, especially the way he has landed key free agents and other pieces.
"Rubén has always been at the forefront in a way that he says, 'This is the player I'm looking for and this is the one I'm going to get,'" Ricardo said. "Rubén has done an incredible job."
Ricardo said there are differences between what happened with Minaya in New York and Amaro's stint in Philadelphia.
"Unfortunately, what happened in New York with Omar is a result of the players and not the moves he made," Ricardo said. "Here, the players have worked out for Rubén Amaro the way they didn't work out for Omar Minaya in New York."
This past offseason, Amaro Jr. did his best Miami Heat impression when he went out and landed Cliff Lee to go along with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. Many had Lee going to the Yankees or perhaps staying in Texas.
Amaro Jr. said he was caught off guard by the signing of a pitcher like Lee because the Phillies weren't considered a major player in the sweepstakes. He credits the winning atmosphere that's been cultivated in Philadelphia for helping to make it happen.
"Was I surprised? Absolutely. It was the negotiation that was kind of different. We found out from the agent and from the player that he really wanted to come to Philadelphia," Amaro said. "I mean, that made life a lot easier.
"In some senses it was a lot easier; in some senses a little more difficult," he continued. "I mean he wasn't a guy that we budgeted for. He wasn't a guy that we even had an inkling that he would be on our club. But it was a classic example of a player really wanting to come play for a team. Fortunately we had the ability to work it out."
For Amaro Jr., as the season headed down the final stretch and their eyes fixed on October, he saw the need for another bat in the lineup.
The sexy name on the market was Carlos Beltrán. But Amaro Jr. had someone else in mind.
He took the future into consideration and obtained from the Houston Astros Hunter Pence, an All-Star player who will be in a Phillies uniform for the next few seasons.
"I think it was really about the control," he said. "I mean this is a guy that we have under control not just this year but next year and the following year. He's going to be arbitration eligible. He kind of fit what we were trying to do.
"Our deals, when we are dealing players and dealing talent, which we've done with a lot of these deals, we like to be able to have control of the players beyond just one year," he added. "We don't like to do rentals. So this kind of fit the bill for us."
Winning a World Series with a team that he's been responsible for building would be particularly special despite the 2008 win as an assistant GM under Gillick.
"I mean if we were fortunate enough to be a World Series team and win a World Series, that'll be very, very gratifying, obviously," Amaro Jr. said. "But I think more than anything else the thing that I learned when we won in 2008, when I was an assistant, is how much joy you really bring to this city. It was just amazing the reaction we got from the city. If we ever get the chance to do that again, it would really, really special to be able to do it in my hometown."
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc.
Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino