Little League Mourns the Passing of José “Pepe” González
Little League International mourns the loss of José “Pepe” González, who passed away Wednesday night in his home city of Monterrey, Mexico.
Mr. González was the founder of the Monterrey Industrial Little League in 1956, and he devoted his life to making Little League available to tens of thousands of children in Mexico for more than a half-century. He served as Mexico’s Little League Baseball Director since 1988, and was District Administrator for Mexico District 2 since 1994.
“On behalf of the Little League International Board of Directors, and millions of Little Leaguers around the world, I extend our deepest sympathy to Pepe González’s family and his countless friends,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League International, said. “He simply cannot be replaced. But we can take the ideals by which Mr. González lived his life, and the dedication he displayed as a volunteer, and hope that others may learn by his example.”
As a news photographer for El Porvenir, Mr. Gonzalez was a frequent visitor to the Little League Baseball World Series. In 1995, at the 20th Little League International Congress, in Reno, Nev., Mr. González received the President’s Award for his service to the Little League program.
In 1957, Mr. González was a coach of the Monterrey team that triumphed over tremendous odds to become the first non-U.S. team to win the Little League Baseball World Series Championship. With paper bags as luggage, the expectation that the tournament would end after one game in McAllen, Texas, and racial barriers to overcome, the team relied on Mr. González and manager César Faz to see them through.
“We went to McAllen for one game, we stayed in the U.S. for an entire month,” Mr. González said in an interview several years go with Knight Ridder Newspapers.
Despite those obstacles, and a tournament format that eliminated a team with one loss at any time from the district level on, the team went on to a 13-0 record, and a defeat of La Mesa (Calif.) Northern Little League, 4-0, in the final game in Williamsport. The pitcher was Angel Macias, who pitched the only perfect game in Little League Baseball World Series Championship history.
“In the championship, I was concentrating so much on trying to win that I did not realize that I was pitching a perfect game,” Mr. Macias said in an interview several years ago. “At the end of the game, I remember most of all César Faz and Pepe González celebrating the triumph with us. That was the most important thing.”
After the Series win, the team traveled to Washington, D.C., where President Dwight Eisenhower hosted them at the White House. Vice President (and future President) Richard Nixon hosted a dinner for them. Sen. Lyndon Johnson, another future U.S. President, showed them around the U.S. Senate.
When they returned home, huge crowds in Mexico City welcomed the team, and Mexico's President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines held a reception for them at the National Palace.
A motion picture recounting the unlikely story of the Monterrey Industrial Little League team’s World Series win in 1956 is expected to be released in 2009, entitled, “The Perfect Game.”