Las Manos Luis
How to turn lemons into lemonade
Introduction (for the grownups)
Tonight we have a story about a Luis, his nickname, and how he became one of the best defensive players in baseball. If this is your first time reading Bedtime Sports, (or you need a refresher) check out our "How To" post.
Questions in italics are designed to spark a conversation. Encourage your audience to participate, but also feel free to answer the questions yourself and incorporate answers into the story.
Words in bold are vocab words - find definitions in the vocab section.
The man dancing emoji (🕺) indicates a section where you can add kinetic elements to the story. Mime an action and encourage your audience to join in.
Happy story telling!
The Story of Las Manos
(4 minute read)
Do you have a nickname? How did you get it?
Lots of baseball players get nicknames. A long time ago, baseball players had nicknames like “The Great Bambino,” “The Say Hey Kid,” or “The Wizard of Oz.” More recently you have players with nicknames like “Thor,” “Junior,” “The Big Unit,” and “Pudge.” I don’t know why there are so many nicknames. Maybe it has something to do with the way that people talk and write about the game, or maybe it comes along with being part of a team.
A lot of the Mets players have nicknames - do you remember any of them?
Do you have a favorite player nickname? Why is it your favorite?
One of my favorite player nicknames is “Las Manos,” which is Spanish for “The Hands.”
Why do you think a baseball player would get a nickname like "Las Manos" (or The Hands")?
Some players are good at defense because they run fast and can get to the ball wherever it is hit. (Maybe they would be called “The legs”) Some players have strong arms and make laser throws to get runners out. (Maybe they would be called “The Arm”) When Luis Guillorme (Gee-YOR-may) plays defense, he just catches everything that comes his way. According to one coach, “I can’t remember seeing anybody with better hands.” So, they call him “Las Manos,” the hands.
If you watch “Las Manos” play, you’ll see him jumping, diving and catching balls all over the infield. His hands allow him to reach out and snag a ball just as its is about to fly by, and then cover it up so that it doesn’t pop out of the glove. Those same hands help him to quickly toss it where it needs to go, whether with a flick, a sling, or a set-and-throw.
Even before most Mets fans knew who Luis Guillorme was, they knew about his hands. Before he had played a single major league game, Luis was in a spring training game with the Mets. Spring training are the games and practices before the real season starts. Players on the Mets and their minor league teams use spring training to get warmed up, work on getting better, and get to know their new teammates. Young players on the minor league teams get to join and learn a little bit about what it's like to be a major league player. During one spring training game a few years ago, a player on the opposing team accidentally let go of his bat and it went flying toward the dugout.
What would you do if a giant wooden bat came flying at you?
Everyone ducked out the way. Some people even jumped and ran. Everyone except Luis. He casually reached up and snatched the bat right out of the air. The announcers couldn't believe it. His teammates couldn't believe it. The batter stood in the batters box, his hands empty, staring, mouth agape, into the dugout where a bearded player had just caught his bat without batting an eye. He couldn't believe it. Welcome to baseball, “Las Manos.”
How do you end up with hands so good that it becomes part of who you are?
Before he was “Las Manos,” before he was even playing baseball for a team, Luis Guillorme was just a kid in Caracas, Venezuela. At that time, it wasn’t always safe for Luis to play outside in the neighborhood where he lived, so his parents told Luis that he had to stay inside to play.
If you had to stay inside all day, which room would you pick to play in? What would you do?
Luis’s dad knew that staying inside would be tough, so he tore down one of the walls in their house to make two small rooms into one big one. At first Luis was bored. But then, Luis found a ball. ThumpThump SNATCH. ThumpThump SNATCH. Luis would bounce the ball against the wall and try and catch it before it hit the ground. Soon, it became his favorite game.
🕺🕺Mimic throwing and catching a ball of the wall. Throw one to your child and see if they will throw it back🕺🕺
As he got better, he would try and make it a little bit harder – catch it after a bounce, catch it while diving onto the couch, catch two balls at the same time!
What type of tricky catch would you try and do? If you gave that trick a name, what would you name it?
Every day Luis came up with a new version, and every day, his hands got a little bit more coordinated, a little bit better. Sometimes he would play late into the night, until the downstairs neighbors complained about the sound and his dad told him it was time for bed.
Luis and his family moved from Venezuela to Florida when he was twelve. When Luis started playing baseball on a team, the rocket line drives and the grounders with the tricky bounces were just like the the ball flying off the wall in his room in Caracas. After years of playing catch with the wall, Luis was a defensive wizard. He was “Las Manos”
Sometimes, if you go to a Mets game early and watch the players warming up, you can see Luis playing some of the games he used to play as a kid, catching balls with both hands, juggling the ball between glove and hand like a magician, always getting better, always having fun.
Not being able to go outside for a long time was hard for Luis, but with a little creativity, and a little help he found something fun that he could do. Next time you’re bored, and you can’t do what you want, let’s see if we can come up with something fun to do instead. Maybe it will turn into a new nickname! What do you think?
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Sources and Videos
Luis Juggles (Video):
Luis spins the leather (GIF in the link):
Guillorme on defense
Art & Illustrations
Luis Guillorme illustrations and neons both created by the incomparable Dan Abrams at Athlete Logos. Check out his site here, or shop for Mets themed T's (including a "Bearded Magician" shirt) and mugs at the Queens Collection.
Incredible designer and illustrator Kevin González and his comic book style Met’s art
Outs Above Average (OAA) means the ability of a defender to get an out that the average player could not make. If a player has zero OAA, they are a perfectly average player. If they have more, than zero, that means they are above average. People calculate this statistic by deciding how hard it is to get an out, and then giving points for hard outs, and taking them away if a player misses an easy one (more or less). (Here is a more detailed description)
What would make it hard to get an out? What would make it easy?
Snag is another way to say catch or grab something, usually as it moves by.
His hands allow him to reach out and snag a ball just as its is about to fly by, and then cover it up so that it doesn’t pop out of the glove.
Oppose is when you are against something. You can argue against it or compete against it. It comes from the same root as opposite.
A player on the opposing team accidentally let go of his bat and it went flying toward the dugout.
Agape means wide open. When your mouth is agape, it's usually because you are so amazed at something that you forget to close it.
The batter stood in the batters box, his hands empty, staring, mouth agape, into the dugout where a bearded player had just caught his bat without batting an eye.
Play Ball: With your grownup, find somewhere that you can bounce and catch a ball. Make up a challenge (like catch it before it bounces on the ground, or catch it with your eyes closed) and see how long it takes you to do it 3 times in a row
Luis's Beard: Luis has had all types of facial hair during his career (like this, and this, and this). Draw a picture of the next style you think he should try. If you want to share - have your grownup take a picture and share on social media. Don’t forget to tag us!
More Story Ideas
Luis turned a tough situation into something fun. You could tell a story about...
What did you do when you were a kid and you got stuck inside?
What's something you learned to do when you were bored?
How did you recently change a tough situation into something more fun?