After 7 decorated seasons in the MABL, the Brewers’ Enmanuel “el Loco” Yajure, known to most as “Manny”, is moving in search of new opportunities for his family. Originally breaking into the league with the Lahaina Warriors in 2016, the big right-hander from Venezuela has made an enormous impact on the league over the past 4 years. A three-time league MVP, Manny holds the best career batting average (.433), slugging percentage (.597), and on-base percentage (1.095) by wide margins. His 5 career home runs is the second highest mark all-time. He also ranks first in career opponent batting average (.187) and strike outs per 9 innings (10.51) on the mound, with a 2.45 ERA (4th all-time), 31 wins (5th), 13 saves (2nd), 24 complete games (3rd), and 447 strike outs (4th) over 382.2 innings.
After joining the Brewers in 2017, he helped lead them to 4 consecutive Championship Series appearances and 2 MABL Titles. As much of an impact as Manny has had on the league, he will tell you that the impact that the MABL has had on him cannot be understated. The following was submitted by Manny, and offers his account of what the Maui Adult Baseball League has meant to him, as well as his farewell to those he competed with and against over the past 4 years.
During the last week of April 2016, I started packing a small bag of clothes and getting ready to start a journey that would go down a whole different road than had I planned. I clearly remember packing two of my baseball gloves, and my wife, with my little boy in her arms next to me, asking me a bunch of questions about why I was packing baseball gloves since I was supposed to go find a place for us to live, and work to bring them there. I remember trying to avoid the confrontation with her because it is impossible to win against my wife. =D I told her on my days off I was just planning to go out and play catch with anyone who was around.
I now understand that God has a plan for each of us. I ended up flying to Maui on May 15, 2016 with no hope of finding baseball in Hawaii. Feeling hopeless, in a different country, I started a side job with a great person named Jeff Lipstein. Even with my very bad English we talked about a little bit of everything, and then a little light appeared. He started talking about softball and he invited me to a series of softball practices. During those practices I met Jeff “Jefe” K Zaverl, and I brought out my baseball and asked him if we could play catch with that instead of the softball. He agreed, and as we started playing catch we talked about baseball before suddenly he asked me, “Manny, you want to play baseball with us? Can you pitch?” I was so excited by that question. I felt like I had waited for that question my entire life.
About a week later I drove my moped to the Lahaina baseball field to meet with Ken Henry, with nothing more than my glove (yeah, the baseball glove I snuck into my luggage). I started playing catch with Ken, without any shoes, but it only took me about 10 throws to prove to him that I could play baseball. That was how I got accepted to play in the Maui Adult Baseball League and I was super happy about that.
I remember my dad repeating to me during my youth that “sports will open doors for you”. I always thought he was saying that to keep me off the streets and away from a life in gangs, but I was wrong. It wasn’t just that, but sports can open many other doors in life as well. The Maui Adult Baseball League gave me the opportunity to be successful on this journey. I say that because all the pressure that came with being in a different country and losing the life that I built back home, being so far from most of my family, being away from my mom and dad, my brothers, my dogs, my house, my business – going from having everything to having nothing – and the pressure to work long hours to be able to pay rent and put food on the table was very scary. But this beautiful sport called baseball, and the MABL, brought many good people who shared my passion into my new life. It was an opening door, providing the hope and strength to keep me moving forward with my family. Over the nearly four years we’ve spent here in Maui, the only thing that I’ve desperately waited for was baseball on Sundays. The MABL helped me put the difficulties of being an immigrant out of my mind, by focusing on the beauty of baseball.
I want to say thank you to all the people who have built and worked to maintain this league. I want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to some of the people that gave me hope, inspired me, and helped me through this journey. It has been a tremendous pleasure to have played this beautiful sport around people like Ken Henry, Anthony Benigno, Jon Wheeler, Rafael Fuentes, Kimo Kirkman, Oscar Duran, Mike Foley, Kevin Spaise, Rich Doster, John Hamilton, Andy Michaels, and every single person who makes up this beautiful league.
Thanks to the West Maui Brewers for being more than teammates, you guys are like my family.
With love and eternal gratitude,
Enmanuel “el loco” Yajure #42
Manny will be playing in his final MABL game before moving this Sunday, March 15 in Lahaina as the Brewers take on the Warriors. All who are interested are invited and encouraged to come out to the field for a barbecue after the 10am game to say “Aloha” and “A Hui Hou”!