The Mariquit Family on the Spotlight
I have been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. The sports page is the homepage on my news browser and looking back 50 years I can still remember reading about the legendary New York Yankees playing the local baseball All-Stars in Manila. The Filipino ace pitchers of the 1950's were Lefty Briones, Viray, and right-handed Mariquit of the Manila Bay Baseball League (MBBL). I never saw them play since I was grown up deep in the northern boondocks of the Philippines. Box scores, as they were, the name Mariquit always stuck in my mind. It is as Filipino a name as Agbayani and our fans are zealous and die hard fanatics. I left the Philippines without watching any of my newspaper heroes in person. I followed and cheered in my own ways when they played foreign teams. Those were the golden years when Filipinos played baseball in its peak, back when they were the Asia's best.
I started watching Major League Baseball in the US and ran across prolific names like Sandy Koufax, Whitey Ford, and Frank Lary. In the middle of the 70's we moved to Jersey City from Brooklyn. Among in my in-laws was the Mariquit family living near the present day Manila Avenue area. I could hardly believe it but this was as close as I could be to the pitcher I only read about. Tragedy struck the Mariquit family however years before I met them. Manuel Mariquit died suddenly the age of 41 of Asphyxia in Lake Tomahawk, Sussex, New Jersey at Newton Hospital. It was a devastating loss for his wife, Maura (Auring) and his six young sons, Gerardo, Manolito, Reynaldo, Manuel,jr,Alexander, and Anthony. Baseball game changed then and this was the era of great relief pitchers, Auring dedicated her life to raise the husky sons, the youngest barely out of the crib, by herself.
Manuel in his first week boarded the Path train to New York looking for his first job in America. The following dialogue could have been repeated thousand times among the new immigrants in the Metropolitan New York networking in the area, before the era of the Internet.
"Kamusta kabayan?" (How are you my fellow countryman?) greeted by a complete stranger to Manuel just because he looks like a Pinoy. I am sure that the stranger (Danny Waga who happened to be living in a neighbor's apartment) did not know that he was addressing one of the finest baseball players from the Philippines.
"Ok, lang, naghahanap ng trabaho, " (OK, I'm just looking for a job) Manuel replied.
Luckily, on one of the days, someone responded. "Ha! May opening sa amin sa Merrill Lynch." (Hey, there's an opening at Merrill Lynch)
The next day, Manuel applied and got a job at the Auditing Department at of one of the largest stockbrokers in the country armed with his Auditing experience at the Far Eastern University (FEU). The family was set to start a good life but he only worked for three years when he died. He must have worked as hard as he played that after the tragic accident, his wife was offered a position in the company. To ease the grief, she was not assigned to the Audit Department, but placed in the firms' International Operations just a month after. She did a good job and whatever energy left at the end of the day was spent on raising the family.
It might have been the finest relief performance by a mother. The young Mariquits, except Manuel Jr. who receive a full athletic scholarship at St Michael High School, completed high school at the prestigious St Peter's Prep in Jersey City and went on to college. Like their father, they were an athletic, scholarly and scrappy bunch. The brothers played basketball in the Filipino league. The family could have been their own team, as they were all sport minded boys. Manolito played baseball at St Peter Prep. Manuel Jr lettered in basketball and baseball at St Michael’s HS. Even today the Mariquit sons posses a love for sports-baseball, basketball and golf. Manuel Jr regularly plays in community league and Rey frequents golf courses on the weekends. Three of the boys- Gerry, Manolito, and Rey- work for prestigious Wall Street firms. Alex was fashion designer for 15 years and recently made a career change into the computer technology field. Alex works as systems coordinator for a Health Industry firm and teaches for a well known computer Technology School. Anthony, the youngest son, left his career with a Wall Street firm and currently pursuing opportunities in the music industry.. The mother is now also retired, spending time with her grandchildren, Atlantic City, and her favorite organization, the Queen Mary Philippine-American Association of Jersey City. Following in their father's footsteps, almost all of them ended up at Merrill Lynch, but from their eyes I can tell that they would just as soon become Mets pitchers to fulfill their father's dream to win a game against the Yankees in the tradition of Frank Lary.
I met all the children but never got to see Manny Mariquit. I wish that in during the family weekends we had in the sands of New Jersey, I could have asked him to pitch me a fastball that I probably couldn't see. Japanese Crown Prince shaking Mariquit’s hand honoring the Filipino All-Star Team
Kathleen, d’ apo w/ "striking" resemblance
Marikit da Superstar
Mariquit Sons, Gerry, Manny, Rey, Manny Jr, Alex, Anthony, and Auring
Lola and grandchildren,(upper)Melanie, Brighid,Brandon, Nolan (lower)Michaela, Pierce, Siobhan, Lola, Kathleen,Loren.
Group picture of the whole Mariquit Famil. Maneng , Auring, family depart from Manila International Airport, Philippines to Kennedy Airport, New York, USAt
1. Baseball popularity in the Philippines reached it peak in the 1950's with the Manila Bay Baseball League (MBBL). The teams were the Canlubang Sugar Baron, Far Easter University Tamaraws, National University, and the teams from US Naval Forces (Sangley Point Blue Jays) and Clark Air Base (CAFB). The boys of summer could play the great American past time all year in the islands. Several players immigrated to the United States when their playing days were over, Lefty Viray came to Chicago and there is another great player who call his Jersey City his home. I met him but just can't place his name. The famous and notorious little league team that won the World Series from the Philippines was coached by a member of this MBBL league.
2. Among the famous giant Yankee Killers was Frank Lary of the Detroit Tigers of the 50's. His phenomenal winning record against the Yankee Dynasty is the David and Goliath of baseball. Also before the late 60's the games were left for the starting pitcher to win or loss. Great relief pitchers changed the game where success is measured not only by winning, saving and game completed. A human lifetime award to Maura Cristobal Mariquit.
Pierce Cristobal Mariquit-
Pierce, the only son of Manny, was born on February 2, 1997 (Ground Hog’s Day). Pierce first word was “um, ball” and that what his life has revolved around so far. By age 2-1/2 , he was at the baseball field with his bat from Cooperstown. The day Pierce had for came in spring 2002 when he joined a Little League Team. He was a crowd pleaser immediately with his constant smile Pierce appears to be following in his Lolo’s footsteps in his passion and great love of the game.
Maura, Patti, Marilou, Susan, and Mhel.
Coming to America
Filipinos in the Jersey