The Dominican Diamond Expert (The New York Times)
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Ever since Pedro Martinez entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in July, Emilio Cordova, the Dominican Republic’s most celebrated baseball historian, has been carrying copies of stat sheets with him all over town. On one side of the pages are Martinez’s career numbers; on the other are those of Juan Marichal, the country’s other legendary pitcher.
“Everyone keeps asking me who was better,” said Cordova, who is known as Cuqui. “It’s driving me crazy!”
He reels off the statistics — complete games, shutouts, earned run average — as if they are an unshakable tic.
“People who never saw Marichal pitch are saying, ‘I like Pedro more; he was better,’ ” Cordova said. “Not true! Look at the numbers.”
He knows most of them by heart. In the Dominican Republic, Cordova, 85, is known as the “immortal sports historian,” a living, breathing archive of Dominican baseball. (His memorabilia-filled home is the related brick-and-mortar version.) Always impeccably dressed, in a blazer complete with a pocket square and suspenders, Cordova is as dapper as he is gentlemanly, an authentic caballero of the old school. But it is what is inside that natty package, the information he shares in his many books and newspaper columns, that makes him a national treasure.