2--5-18 - A's
Oakland Athletics manager Billy Martin 

Amaury Pi-Gonzalez

 Billy Martin -- A Flawed Man But A Great Manager

By Amaury Pi-Gonzalez
Christmas Day 2017 marked 28 years since Billy Martin died in a car crash in Johnson City, New York, some 180 miles north and west of New York City. Billy was 61 and his longtime friend, William Reedy, 53, was the driver. Both had been drinking.

Billy Martin was an alcoholic, a fighter and womanizer, but on the baseball field he was a very good player with the Yankees in the 1950s and an even better manager. He played second base on Yankee teams with players like Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, among others. In his private life Billy Martin was not what today they call a "politically correct person." He would tell you what he thought, without reservations on any given topic, and if you started an argument with Billy, you better be ready to finish it.

I remember Billy when he came to the Athletics to manage. He was a manager with the Twins, Tigers, Rangers, Athletics and Yankees.

Billy Ball, a term created by late Oakland Tribune writer Ralph Wiley, (a very nice guy) and adopted by the best marketing team in Oakland A's history, during the Walter Haas ownership, of Sandy Alderson and marketing guru Andy Dolich. Image a team whose manager was the biggest star. And Billy was that during three years as skipper of the A's and the players loved him. Rickey Henderson told me many times that Billy was his favorite manager. Rickey was a rookie in 1979 and in 1980, when Charlie Finley sold the team, Rickey was a young star in the American League,. Billy Martin managed the Athletics for three  years, 1980-1982. In 1980 (83-79) they finished in second place in the AL West. In 1981 was the first work stoppage in Major League Baseball since 1972. Games were canceled but under manager Billy Martin, the A's won the division with a record of 64-45.

As controversial as Billy was, I never had any problems talking to him. Prior to a game he would usually tell me he loved Latino players because they showed the same passion as he did. He once told me it was good that I could speak English, because in this country English was the language for everybody. He was as good as any manager I have seen as far as strategy or motivating his players to play hard and players respected that. Billy Ball was his style; the suicide squeeze (his favorite steal), bunting and all the stuff that is absent in today's game of "home run or strike out." During Spring Training in 1981 my broadcast partner, Julio Gonzalez, and Tony Armas (who played right field for the A's) and yours truly went after a game to the Pink Pony (in Scottsdale), a restaurant popular for baseball people. As we walked in Tony noticed Billy Martin and some of his coaches at one table, having a good time. Tony, in Spanish, said, "No, aqui no...vamos a otro lado." Translated, he said, "No, not here. Let's go someplace else."

 Some players (like Tony Armas) did not want to be in the same place as Billy Martin, having a beer and dinner. That's the way it was. You can come to your own conclusion.

As a kid I remember Bobby Bragan managing the Almendares team during winter baseball in Cuba. He was as fiery of a manager as I ever saw. He was the first manager I remember kicking dirt on an umpire, screaming his lungs out or even making contact with an umpire. Some of the old timers in the baseball world will remember Bragan, as well as Tommy Lasorda, who also played in Cuba, and he remembers Bobby Bragan who also played in the Major Leagues, coached and managed. I met Bragan in a press box later in life as a scout. He was quite an intense manager, and so was Billy Martin.

Billy Martin, if he managed today, would argue with the umpire even after the replay and final decision had came back from New York. He would lead both leagues in times thrown out of a game, but he would show his baseball knowledge, his instinct, his passion for winning and for the game. Billy managed for the moment, not for what happened before. The "book" that we speak during broadcasts, with Billy you can throw it out the window. I know many disagree with me, but I believe Billy Martin could not manage today. The game would be too robotic to him. I could see Billy going after a fan who is sitting behind home plate, not paying attention to the game, grab his cellular and throw it to the floor and shout at him, "Pay attention to the f____game."

Love him or hate him, there was no in-between for the man born in Berkeley, (just a few exits from the Oakland Coliseum) and I have to confess today, I loved Billy!

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Happy Hanukkah!

Oakland A's play-by-play announcer Amaury Pi-Gonzalez is now entering his 24th season as the Voice of the A's for all Spanish broadcasts. For a sixth straight year, Pi-Gonzalez will also do selected games for the Los Angeles Angels on Fox Sports Network West in Southern California. Reprinted courtesy Amaury Pi-Gonzalez: That's Amaury's News and Commentary. For more information, visit: SportsRadioService

3-6-17 - Pops

Michael King (left), with an associate from USF (center), and Karla Granadino-King, are pictured at the Olympic Club in San Francisco,  proudly sharing with the world their  Pops Premium Rumpopo. A King family secret, Pops Premium Rumpopo is a  delicious rum cream liqueur recipe brewed in the family tradition.  The award winning recipe is a Belizean family favorite and now available at all Total Wine & More stores in California and Bay Area retailers.
For more information, visit

Pops - Original
Pops Back Label