Rafael Felo Ramírez, the Marlins’ charismatic narrator, died on August 21 at age 94, leaving a legacy difficult to match for those of us who love this profession.
Felo was born in Bayamo, the Oriente Province, on June 22, 1923. I started listening to Felo when I was still a teenager. I lived in Cuba and Major League Baseball was a banned subject, but on my radio I could hear Florida Marlins baseball broadcasts through CMQ-1210. Listening to his narrations I began to inquire about him, and realized that I heard one of the great Cuban narrator-commentators of history.
In those transmissions I knew the players and the teams of the Great Leagues.
His powerful voice, his exquisite diction and his total knowledge of the game made him an icon of the profession. He began these tasks with only 16 years in his native Bayamo.
In 1950 he arrived at Union Radio, having as a companion the journalist René Molina. That same year the program La Cabalgata Deportiva Gillete began with Buck Canel.
In 1954 he signed a contract with Circuito CMQ. Felo narrated the Cuban Professional League from 1945 to 1961 when he left Cuba and brought his talents to baseball in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Felo belongs to the Hall of Fame of Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Cuba and Caribbean Series. He was elected to Cooperstown on August 5, 2001.
He narrated 31 World Series and around 40 Caribbean Series. He had the opportunity to narrate three historical moments of the sport. Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Roberto Clemente’s 3000 hit in 1972 and Hank Aaron’s 715 homer in 1974. In addition to baseball he was a great boxer.
When the Marlins made their big league debut, there was Felo as the team’s Spanish-speaking voice. He told the victories in the 1997 and 2003 World Series.
Their phrase “They are winning the Marlins” will not be heard again, but their simplicity, their professionalism and their charisma will always be remembered.
Thank you Felo
Written by Iraim Torres sports journalist
for Calle Ocho News