Kenny Perez was telling former 49ers great Ronnie Lott what it was like in decades past when the Tracy Angels and Mi Ranchito Saints were going head-to-head and against other teams in the California Mexican-American Baseball League.
Today, both Tracy teams are long gone, and on Tuesday, Kenny, who was an important part of the heyday of local semi-pro baseball, died at the age of 53 from complications of ALS.
As the two athletes and sports fans talked two weeks ago about participating in this Sunday’s ALS Walk for the Cure, they also chatted and laughed about sports of all kinds.
Kenny said he enjoyed watching Lott play for the 49ers, but had to confess he wasn’t a 49ers fan. Since he was a young boy, he had been true to the Los Angeles (now St. Louis) Rams.
“Oh, I was a Rams fan when I was growing up in Rialto (San Bernardino County),” Lott replied. “After we moved from Washington (D.C.) to Southern California, one of my first big sporting moments was going to a Rams game. But I couldn’t get in — they were playing the Packers and were sold out. I saw other Rams games, though.”
Kenny and Ronnie shared some memories of the Rams and 49ers rivalry of the early years of the National Football League, agreeing that defensive end Deacon Jones was one of the greatest and most inspirational players in Rams history.
It was fun for me to listen to the conversation between the two sports guys. From what I saw and heard, Kenny had a great 45 minutes talking sports with the ex-49er great.
Both agreed they would be at this Sunday’s ALS walk, but it was not to be — at least for Kenny.
His death Tuesday will, however, give greater meaning to the walk for a good many of people, including the former 49er (and onetime Rams fan), who will lead the walkers.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.