By Marty Fleischman
When I got the text today from Jeff “Laca” Conway, I figured it was one of
his group texts about another player reunion party or “old timer”
get-together at his amateur court. But, he told me about his new website
AND “would I like to possibly write some articles for it.”
My first impulse was thanks, but, no thanks. I spent 41 years in the sport
of Jai-Alai and just retired last June with my wife (a kindergarten teacher)
from doing Tech Support for Hillsborough County Public Schools (which my
timing could not have been better.) I want to relax, travel, play
pickleball and tennis, tournament bridge and enjoy my retirement.
But, now that travel is on hold and it is so hot that outdoor sports are
limited, maybe I would share some of my stories from over the years. BUT,
Where would I begin? What interests our Jai-Alai fans nowadays? Do they
want to hear about the Golden Years of our sport, the Tampa and Miami
players that I knew so well, the birth of Ocala, Ft. Pierce, Melbourne,
Hartford, celebrity stories, movie shoots, scandals, murders, corporate
intrigue, takeovers, intercity and national tournaments… on and on…41
So, while I still have such vivid memories of so much, and you never know
how long that is going to last, I told Jeff, “yes.”
Maybe this will be like the Pedro Mir interviews. Pedro, the ex-player
manager of Miami Jai-Alai, and considered the grandfather of our sport in
this country, had the knowledge and memories from the first day Jai-Alai was
played in Hialeah until he stepped down in the 70s. When I was transferred
to Miami in 1980, I knew when we lost Pedro, we lost that historical data.
He was truly one of America’s Founding Fathers of Jai-Alai.
So, I videotaped about 10 hours with him. We documented the true history
of American Jai-Alai. His stories were fascinating. I hope mine will be,
Thanks, Jeff, for reaching out to me. And, thanks to all your readers and
followers of absolutely the greatest sport on the planet. Jai-Alai can
never die, as long as we keep these memories alive.