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Rafael Ávila is a Dominican baseball legend

Rafael Ávila es una leyenda del béisbol dominicano

Rafael Ávila, one of the men who have made the greatest contributions to baseball in the Dominican Republic, died Monday in the city of Miami at the age of 92.

A native of Camaguey, Cuba, he arrived in the country in 1970 as a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and his identification was such that he considered himself Dominican.

“I was born in Cuba and I am a citizen of the United States. But deep down in my heart I am Dominican, ”Ávila used to say in circles of friends and also when he was interviewed by any means.

This legendary baseball man suffered from Alzheimer’s for a few years and lived in Pembroke Pines, on the outskirts of Miami, Florida.

He is survived by his wife Gloria and his sons Rafael and Alberto (Chungo). The latter was a professional baseball player and manager of the Detroit Tigers for 6 years, until last year.

Ávila was the manager and interim manager of the Tigres del Licey, an organization in which he developed a great friendship with its emblematic president Domingo Ernesto Pichardo (Monchín). The triad was completed by Tom Lassorda, who twice led the blue team.

Those relationships with Pichardo and Lassorda, a figure of great weight in the Dodgers, allowed Steve Garvey, Bill Russell, Orel Hershisher and Bobby Valentine, just to name a few of the great prospects of the franchise, strengthened that club in the decades of the 70 and 80.

However, his great work was undoubtedly the Campo Las Palmas Baseball Academy, in the municipality of Guerra, the first Major League Baseball Academy in the country, built in 1987 with the support of his friend Peter O’Malley, the then owner of the Dodgers.

From that laboratory, assisted by Elvio Jiménez, Pablo Peguero, Eleodoro Arias and Luis Ángel Montalvo, among other qualified baseball men, came the pitchers Ramón and Pedro Martínez, Pedro Julio

Astacio, Juan Guzmán, Alejandro Peña, Bálbino Gálvez, Félix Rodríguez, and José Parra.

Also, the outfielders Raúl Mondesí, José Rafael González and Braulio Castillo; infielders José Offerman, José Vizcaíno, Rafael Bournigal, Roberto Mejía and Manny Francois, as well as catcher Gilberto Reyes.

Others, like Mike Piazza, were sent by the popular National League franchise shortly after being signed in the United States, to polish some tools that would lead him to shine in the Majors to such an extent that in 2016 he entered the Hall of Fame of Cooperstown.

Ávila, with a career of more than half a century in the Dominican Republic, was the first winner in 2006 of the “International Scout of the Year” award, an award that would be won two years later by Epifanio Guerrero, also owner of a clinical eye that allowed him to sign more than 60 players, not only Dominicans, who arrived in the Big Top.

In 1996, Ávila was exalted as a promoter by the Dominican Sports Hall of Fame, the first athlete born in Cuba to obtain the distinction.

Reactions in the networks

Welcome Rojas

Rest in peace. Rafael Ávila, recognized as one of the great scouts of Dominican and Latino baseball for more than 6 decades. Ávila passed away at the age of 92, suffering from Alzheimer’s a few years ago and residing in Pembroke Pines, on the outskirts of Miami, Florida.

Tony Pina Campora

A great friend, Rafael Ávila. I had a close friendship with him. A baseball man who generously gave the country his best for the development of professional baseball and all the good he has brought to society. Immortal of Dominican Sport.

Antonio Puesan

The stories of Don Rafael Ávila make for several episodes of a series, a great baseball man, I remember that he once told me that the prospect he expected to reach the majors because of his great talent was “Manny François” among so many superstars he signed . Peace to his soul.

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