September 27 – Happy Birthday Jorge Rivera

jorgeIf there was a Hall of Fame for Amsterdam Recreation Softball, Jorge Rivera would be one of my choices to be inducted as a charter member. It didn’t matter if he was pitching against me, managing the opposing team or calling balls and strikes, he gave it his best effort and was always one of the classiest and fairest guys on the field. I used to love playing against his spirited and very good SAC teams. They always battled till the final out. Ditto for those great Skiba’s teams he played for. But softball was only a part of this guy’s legacy in Amsterdam.

Born in Puerto Rico on September 24, 1937, he moved north in the late fifties and settled in Brooklyn before coming to Amsterdam in 1970 and marrying his wife Daisy. Like newcomers who’d been making their homes in this community since the nineteenth century, Jorge joined a church; St. Michael’s, got a good job; General Electric, and raised his family; two sons and a daughter. He played Softball for fun but doing so helped make it easier to assimilate to his new home and then he used his strong connections to the game to help other new members of Amsterdam’s Latino community do the same. He truly was a mentor among Amsterdam’s Hispanic population. A great father to his own kids and a loving spouse he never refused to help a relative, friend or neighbor who needed a favor or assistance dealing with a situation.

I’m trying to remember where it was the last time I saw him but I can’t. I do remember the conversation clearly though. We were at a sporting event in Amsterdam and I believe his grandson was playing. When we saw each other I greeted him with “Jorge” and he smiled and said “Shorty’s, right?” (Shorty’s was my old softball team from the 1970’s.) We caught up a bit, talked about softball memories and then he told me about his illness. At the time, I could see a tiredness in his eyes but he told me he was determined to fight the cancer because he wanted to see his grandchildren grow up. It was perhaps a year after that meeting, in June of 2007 that I read Jorge had passed away. Jorge Rivera was a great guy!

Jorge share his September 27th Birthday with this Amsterdam political legend.

 

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