Understanding English in the deep South may have been a doubled edged sword. It was always clear that whites were insulting them, but taunts in an unfamiliar language are easy too ignore. As their English improved Ponce and the pitcher became increasingly aware of what the white men were saying. One day outside of Atlanta Ponce's fear turned to anger as he silenced a man who followed him into a bar spitting hate. It was just one punch. In less than twenty minutes the two ballplayers were running for their lives. The mob had formed, and as Ponce described it, it was a well-rehearsed play. This was not the first time young men had run for their lives in this part of the world. His memory of the chase is hazy. He remembers running. He remembers his friend pulling him into the woods. He remembers the long hot wait until nearly dawn. The pitcher had saved Ponce’s life. The next day, the pitcher left. “America”, he said, “is no place for a black man”.
Ponce moved back to New York and later to Boston. He runs a community center and teaches kids to play baseball. On May 3, 1999, Mr. Ponce turned on the television to watch the Baltimore Orioles play the Cuban All-Stars in an exhibition game. Some time during the sixth inning one of the Cuban pitching coaches noticed the television camera on him. He held out a handmade sign that read “Lazaro Ponce is my friend”. The Baltimore Orioles lost the game 12-6
Ponce, Thank you for all of your stories!!!!!!!