The late Roberto Zayas of Moose Jaw, will be inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Zayas grew up on a baseball-mad island of Cuba, where he learned to play the game of baseball with a passion, developing into a better than average player around Havana.
In 1952, the Florida Cubans Baseball Club had a highly successful tour of the prairies, resulting in the Cuban players services in great demand. Upon being introduced to Saskatchewan in 1953, Zayas experienced the dramatic climate change.
The Saskatoon Gems, of the semi-pro Saskatchewan Baseball League, offered Zayas a tryout, and his first year he was playing in Saskatoon.
His stay in Saskatoon was brief, playing the bulk of that season with the Moose Jaw Maples, also a member of the Saskatchewan League. Skinny as a rail with bird legs, he could run the bases with abandon and played the game as if his life was dependant upon it.
In 1954, he suited up with the Lloydminster Meridians playing semi pro. The next three seasons, Zayas and the Meridians played in the Western Canada Baseball League.
In 1958, he suited up for the North Battleford Beavers, Lloydminster Combines, Moose Jaw Mallards in the Western Canada Baseball League.
The next year he played with the Moose Jaw Mallards in the Southern Saskatchewan League.
From 1960 to '63, he was the manager while playing with the Valley View Centre Red Sox in the Moose Jaw and District Baseball League.
In 1964 to '67, Zayas suited up for the Moose Jaw Regals.
Originally, a middle infielder, Zayas became a speedy outfielder with a flair for always losing his cap while gliding after a fly ball. He had a reputation for playing smart ball offensively, laying down a well-placed, well-timed bunt and using his speed on the base paths. He played fundamentally sound baseball in all aspects of the game. He played with passion, dedication and was competitive. He was known to be a sincere, polite, fun-loving, compassionate and kind person.
Following his playing years, Zayas turned his talents to coaching in the Moose Jaw minor baseball program. He taught the fundamentals to large groups of aspiring ball players. His baseball strategies and tactics, along with his fiery nature were evident in the play in the Moose Jaw Junior Little League team that won the Little League Championship.
Away from the diamond, he was known as a great humanitarian. He worked with intellectually challenged individuals at the Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw, as well as volunteer counseling to others that needed guidance. Zayas died in Moose Jaw in 2006.