«People say that he’s crazy, but he is stepped walked in front of a bus. I would like to be a manager and have on my team nine madmen like Victor Mesa.»(Conrado Marrero, the Premier of Cuban baseball)
When you talk about great figures of Cuban baseball there are many names that stand out, but without a doubt Victor Mesa Martínez deserves a prominent place, as one of the most explosive and talented players who have competed on the playing fields of Cuba and the world.
Victor gained a reputation as being a very restless baseball player, but with his abilities and skills he also made plays that became unforgettable classics, besides racking up statistics that place him among the best the Island ever produced.
As he confessed in the book, Victor Mesa: Baseball in Life, “My mother named me Victor always thinking of victory. I have always walked through life with only one sack, the one for success.”
The “Orange Explosion”, as sports commentator “Bobby” Salamanca christened him, made his debut in national baseball championships in the 1977-1978 season and retired on February 20, 1997.
During 19 National Series he accumulated an excellent batting average of 319, thanks to his 2,171 hits in 6,834 times at bat, with 351 doubles and 273 homeruns, besides stealing 588 bases —one of his specialties— a record for the country at the time.
This outstanding player confesses that he never had any ambition in baseball besides playing for his people and doing it better each time he went out on the playing field.
“If I had been ambitious I would not have gone to Japan on an official contract. I would have gone to play in the Major Leagues. They made me a number of offers.”
Victor was forced to abandon active sports in 1996, before the Olympic Games in Atlanta, and they sent him to play in Japan, something that he has always considered unjust.
“I never thought I would feel so sad in retirement. Maybe I had not prepared for when that day, or night, came around. Players like me should be fired in the dawn hours, the time in which things are born and flower”.
“I am not a seeker of lies or truths. I am a man in the prime of my baseball career, with an immense desire to enhance my statistics. I am baseball in life”, he confessed to José Antonio Fulgueiras shortly before his official retirement.
He also remembers bitter moments such as the times he was injured and the day they proposed that he move from center to left field.
But he has many memorable dates like when he received the award from the magazine Opina as the most popular baseball player in the country, or when he was chosen the most outstanding athlete in Cuban team sports in 1984, the year in which he was also selected among the best athletes in Latin America.
Regarding the expressions that fans yelled to him from the stands he explains:
“It never bothered me that they called me crazy. Rather, I was pumped when they yelled «crazy, crazy» to me from the stands. The public always said things to me, but that only stimulated me, because I enjoyed playing baseball, wanting to be better every day.”
Of his feats as a baseball player among the most memorable were the seven times that he stole home.
“It was very beautiful. The first time I stole home in Havana was very exciting, like the first time I had sex. The first time I fell in love. Those are things that you do once and the memory lasts a lifetime.”
So cheerful is this man that at age 50—his birthday was recently—he avows to love good music, dancing fast and slow, jazz, ballet and country music; a frustrated singer that cures his physical and spiritual woes listening to music.
This artist of baseball whom we saw do the sign of the cross many times before facing an opposing pitcher —in a crucial moment—, assures us that he does not profess any religion, even though he believes in a superior being.
“The restless Mesa”, who as a child had some behavioral problems, has always been a defender of the family. Even though he was abandoned by his father when he was only a few months old, his mother Olga Mesa not only gave him her last names, but also made sure to prepare him for life.
Victor has three children, Annierys , a daughter from his first marriage, and two boys with his second wife, both of whom he named Victor, so they may be repeat victories, just another way of nourishing those who live by his side with his madness.
The current manager of Matanzas in the Cuban league left the playing field without fulfilling his dream of playing at least one season with the Industriales team of the Cuban capital.
This outstanding player who was also applauded and praised for his marvelous fielding in center field, does not deny that he would have loved to play in the Major Leagues.
“Of course! Who would not love playing in the best baseball league in the world? But since I never played there, I don’t know how I would have done.”
Victor Mesa who managed national juvenile teams, the Villa Clara major league team, squads of the Mexican Baseball League and this season is heading Matanzas, has assumed the challenge with great nobility and instills in his pupils the love for the teams and total commitment in each game.
For his charisma, his cunning, his ever-present smile and his nonconformity, he personifies what it means to be Cuban, and has expressed many times that he has a deep love for the land where he was born and that will cover him some day.
Currently he is much loved by Matanzas fans who are thrilled to see the progress of their team that has never made it to the post season in the last twenty years. They believe this dream to be highly possible in the current season.
For this, the representatives of this western Cuban province have as their coach Victor Mesa who, as one colleague says, is too crazy to fear danger and too sane to for stupidities.