Jesus Alou, who joined with his brothers Felipe, a future Hall of Famer, and Matty in blazing a trail for Dominican natives in the major leagues, died on Friday. He was 80.
His death was announced by the San Francisco Giants, with whom he played his first six seasons. No details were provided.
When Jesus Alou was a rookie, he and his brothers were all in the Giants’ outfield on Sept. 15, 1963. They were the only three brothers in major league history to play together in a single game.
Jesus Alou played in the major leagues for 15 seasons and was a member of the Oakland A’s teams that won World Series championships in 1973 and 1974. He had limited power, hitting only 32 home runs in his career, but he was a solid batter with a career average of .280.
In the late summer of 1975, when he joined the Mets, he gave the three Alou brothers a combined total of 5,000 games in the major leagues.
But the Alous weren’t the first Dominicans in the majors. Ossie Virgil Sr. held that distinction, playing at third base for the New York Giants in 1956. And Juan Marichal, the future Hall of Fame pitcher, had joined the San Francisco Giants in 1960.
When he became a Met, Jesus Alou recalled the day he and his brothers made history:
“It was my first or second day in the big leagues, and they sent me in to pinch‐hit and then play left field. Matty had just been recalled from Tacoma, and he replaced Willie Mays in center to give him some rest. Felipe was the regular right fielder. It was no big deal, we didn’t telephone home or anything. After all, we played together all the time in winter ball back in the Caribbean.”
His best season with the Giants was 1965, when he played in 143 games and batted .298 with nine home runs and 52 runs driven in. While playing for the Houston Astros in 1970, he batted .306 with 44 runs batted in.
-Felipe Alou was traded to the Milwaukee Braves in 1964, but Jesus and Matty remained teammates in San Francisco for the next few seasons. Jesus was taken by the Montreal Expos in the National League’s 1968 expansion draft, but they traded him to the Astros before the next season began.
Jesus Maria Rojas Alou was born on March 24, 1942, in Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic. near Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital. He was one of six children in a poor family. His father, Jose Rojas, a carpenter and fisherman, was the grandson of a slave. His mother, Virginia Alou, was of Spanish descent.
Felipe’s son Moises also played major league baseball and another son, Jose Rojas, briefly managed the Mets.
Jesus married Angela Hanley in the late 1960s and they had five children: Angela, Jesus Jr., Maria de Jesus, Claudia and Jeimy. Jesus Jr. became the director of the Boston Red Sox’s player development complex in the Dominican Republic in 2002.
A list of Jesus’ survivors was not immediately available. Matty Alou died in 2011.
“It’s not so strange that we all played ball — families in the Dominican Republic get to be good in one thing,” Jesus Alou told The Times in 1975. “Singers, doctors, even politicians — they can run in the family. Maybe it’s because little brothers look up to the big brothers, the way we looked up to Felipe. Sometimes I wonder if maybe big brothers in the United States shouldn’t realize that — that responsibility. They should set the example.”
“When you were a kid in the Dominican Republic, the Americano was a real big strong guy,” he said in the same interview. “You saw him on the street and you asked him for a quarter. Then you come up to the big leagues and you see that he has weaknesses, too. Now Felipe and I are next‐door neighbors back home, and Matty and my mother and father all live a couple of blocks away. I guess we look much richer to the people there than we really are. Maybe we’re the Americanos now.”