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Jose Uribe, RIP

I was sad to hear that former Giants shortstop Jose Uribe died on Friday and that went beyond the sadness that comes with the hearing that someone died too young.

During my time in college, I was very involved with the campus radio station as its sports director and play-by-play announcer. During one of our weekly board of director meetings, it was announced that one of our board members would have the name of his title changed slightly. As we went around the table, each director congratulated the board member on the title change in a humorous manner.

When it got to my turn, I knew I had to trump those who previously came before me. So I said something to the effect of "There was once a major league baseball player in the 80s named Jose Gonzalez who got frustrated because it seemed that there were many baseball players with that name. So he changed his name to Jose Uribe (Uribe being his mom's maiden name). I hope you have better luck with your name change than he did with his."

Well, that drew a lot of laughs, and for the next two years, it was something frequently brought up. At the end of one year, I was given a certificate as winner of "The Jose Uribe Award" for my knowledge of silly sports trivia. I have a sheet signed by my radio colleagues and one of the inscriptions reads "We'll always remember Jose Uribe."

Since then, Uribe has become a symbol, for me and my college friends, representing my love of baseball trivia. Within hours of his death, I got e-mails from two of my radio colleagues, both making sure that I knew of his passing. When I heard the news on the radio this afternoon, it definitely had an impact, though not as great as it had in the Dominican Republic, where Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero led a parade of mourners through the streets.

I was at least glad to read that Jose Uribe was more successful than I gave him credit for. He ran for mayor, owned a hardware store, and had 14 children. "Uribe was a very loved person in Juan Baron. He was like the lord of the town," Glovis Reyes, a former member of the Dominican Congress told the Associated Press.

I'm in the midst of reading an excellent book, Braniac, by Jeopardy uberchampion Ken Jennings, which features stories of "Adventures in the Curious, Comeptitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs" along with anecdotes from Jennings' jeopardy appearances and a thorough background on the history of trivia. It is a fun, easy, educational read, and I strongly encourage those interested to read it. I mention this because it has made me think about what trivia means to me.

I think that one of the best things about baseball is that every piece of trivia (such as the changing of a player's name) has relevance, not just within the context of the game itself, and no matter how silly or irrelevant it seems. I have enjoyed sharing the discovery of that kind of information with others That was something I enjoyed doing in college a dozen years ago and it's something I still enjoy doing today, particularly in some of the essays I write on this site. Thank you for indulging me with your readership.

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