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February 23, 2001

The Daily Prospectus

Mary Angela Gonzalez

by Joe Sheehan

A project with the long, slow development curve of Baseball Prospectus has any number of heroes. Many of the names you know: Gary Huckabay, Chris Kahrl and Clay Davenport have been among the core players in the group since its inception in 1995. Other people have been less visible, but just as valuable at various points: Joel Zuhars, who bankrolled Baseball Prospectus 1997, or Will Allison, whose editing work on the last two editions of the book has improved it substantially, or Steven Carter, who founded "The Week in Quotes," a column that was close to our only regular Web site content for a while.

This column is about one of those people in the background, one of the ones without whom Baseball Prospectus, and countless lives, would have been less. I speak of Mary Angela Gonzalez--"Angie" to the world--my mother-in-law.

I only knew Angie for a short time, about six-and-a-half years, but the impact she made on my life is indelible. She was a remarkable woman; the oldest of nine children growing up in a small Colorado town, she helped to raise her eight brothers. After moving to California, she raised six children of her own, including a stepson and a goddaughter. She worked at a number of jobs while bringing up her brood, becoming an excellent bookkeeper and clerical worker despite never completing high school.

I came to know her later in life, after she'd retired in 1992. She was the antithesis of the archetypal mother-in-law: welcoming, rather than aloof; accepting, rather than judgmental. She never took me to task for things I did, and heaven knows she had many opportunities. When I made what can only be described as "interesting" career decisions, she and my father-in-law held their tongue and gave me rope when they no doubt would have preferred to use it as a noose. That patience and support was a key element in the production of the early editions of the book and in the development of the Web site over the past two years.

Angie told great stories, and enjoyed regaling me with tales of growing up in Starkville, a place I envisioned as something out of a Dickens novel but with more snow. She liked talking about her younger days with her husband Henry, when they would dance into the Los Angeles night. She would always return from trips to Laughlin, Nevada with more money than she left with and stories to go with the winnings.

Angie's last few years weren't easy. A stroke in July of 1998 weakened her and left her unable to pursue some of her favorite activities, like crocheting. She lost some ability to speak, but worked hard to repair the damage. She never lost her sense of humor, often laughing at her inability to come up with a word or a name. It had to be terribly frustrating for a woman of such independence to become so reliant upon others, but she did her best to adapt and adjust, as much for our sake as for hers.

On Wednesday, one day shy of her 71st birthday, God decided it was his turn to have Angie for a while. In the end, she performed perhaps her greatest feat of all, bringing her daughters together to spend her last hours surrounded by them and her husband, Henry, himself a man of character and achievement who has my respect, admiration, and love. Her loss is deeply felt not only by those of us in the family, but by hundreds of others who knew her as a friend, as a co-worker, and as a woman of tremendous strength.

On my last day with Angie, I was able to show her the latest edition of the work that she had, perhaps unknowingly, helped me create. She was too weak to even hold it, but she could see the title and the names and she smiled with what I hope was pride.

I figure God is a baseball fan with broadband access, so I hope he can pass this message along: Angie, we miss you, and we will always keep you in our hearts. Thank you for touching so many people, and for making it possible for one young man to work towards his dreams.

And don't worry: we will all take care of Henry for you. I promise you that.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by clicking here.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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