New York: William Gerena -Rochet had favorite quotes:
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality”.
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
He had many more from scholars, writers, dignitaries, and political leaders. Sadly, I got word late Monday of his passing at his home in Puerto Rico. He fought an illness as long as he could and family was at his side.
Many of you may not recall, “Willie” as we called him, was the editor here at Latino Sports and a good one at that. I loved him as a colleague and was proud to know him as a friend.
Sadness here as I write this. I did not know that my friend and former editor was seriously ill. Then again, Willie lived a quiet life and never complained about a cough, headache, or sneeze.
His time was with family, and he loved his grandchildren. Friends became his family and at Latino Sports we were his family. He danced with the best and excelled at his salsa.
But there was something else about William Gerena Rochet. He loved baseball. He loved to write about the game. And the passion was always seen sitting side-by side with William up in the press boxes at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.
Though a Yankees fan all the time, he respected opinion. And the opinion of a Mets fan, yours truly, who told him that writing and reporting was always going to be objective.
William listened. He cared.
I always recall, a night at Yankee Stadium and on deadline. I said, ‘Willie are you writing tonight and he said, no I am here to observe how you do it.’
He observed as I typed and on deadline. He watched the paragraphs flow, He saw how the puzzle of putting a deadline piece was filed with details and quotes.
William was amazed and wanted to learn. You see, he was not a sports journalist by trade. HIs first time in the Yankees and Mets post game clubhouses, “the locker rooms” he followed the pack. He listened as the regulars fired away and asked their questions.
He took the notepad and at times a recorder, as we all do, and got the quotes, But he remained silent. He observed and watched the veterans do what we always do.
A veteran, as I am, noticed. He was comfortable and began the process of asking questions, and was not shy to approach a ballplayer after a long night on the field. Believe me, that isn’t easy to do even for a veteran.
Later, he smiled and said, ‘I learned from a real pro.’ I said, Willie ‘You don’t need to be a pro in this business. Be yourself.’
And that was William Gerena -Rochet, himself and had that way with words that were put in print. The baseball terminology was different. His persona was always the same. A fedora on his head with those humid and hot days on the field, or in the open air press box at Yankee Stadium.
But it was more than being an editor who cared. He offered the respect that so few have forgotten in this ever changing society.
The respect, I will always remember, dedication as an editor of this web site, and passion for baseball. Kind, and proud of his heritage and a native of Puerto Rico living in Spanish Harlem. I was proud when he called me his mentor.
Thing is, William Gerena -Rochet got it wrong. He was my mentor.
He knew how to keep this veteran reporter in place when it came to the trials and tribulations of this business, He always said to this writer, or others under him, to not be overwhelmed with stress that is part of taking on a career in sports journalism.
He said to enjoy what you do. We are the few and privileged to get media credentials and access to the ballparks.
Yes, we lost contact at times but checked in from time-to-time. Sadly, I was not informed about his final days and understand it was a peaceful ending to a great journey
He taught me and others about a journey of respect, love, and always be professional. Yes, that one quote mentioned, from Dr, King, was about reality.
He was real. From all of us at Latino Sports condolences to the family of William Gerena- Rochet. Rest in Peace my friend.
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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