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  Wed, September 1, 2004


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Don't remember the Alamo
Jays manager and San Antonio native John Gibbons would prefer to talk about the positives in Texas history
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

How come there are nine movies about the Alamo and only one about the battle of San Jacinto?

"I don't know, maybe because the Alamo was a stationary mission and San Jacinto was fought out in the fields?" answered John Gibbons.

INTERIM SKIP

Gibbons is two things: Interim manager of the Jays and a proud native of San Antonio, Tx. Like the Houston Astros when they fired Jimy Williams and hired interim manager Phil Garner, the interim tag is a must or the commissioner's office will fine clubs for not interviewing minorities.

Gibbons is from the eighth-largest city in the U.S. with a population of 1,214,724 -- where the Alamo stands, not far from the famous River Walk.

The list of Alamo movies is about the same length as the number of failed Jays relievers -- The Immortal Alamo in 1911; Martyrs of the Alamo in 1915; With Davey Crockett at the Fall of the Alamo in 1926; Heroes of the Alamo in 1937; The Alamo: Shrine of Texas Liberty in 1938; Man of Conquest in 1939; The Man from the Alamo in 1953; The Last Command in 1957; Remember the Alamo in 1960 and this year's The Alamo.

"My favourite has always been the John Wayne one (1960)," Gibbons said.

During the outbreak of the Texas revolution against Mexican dictator General Santa Ana, San Antonio was captured by rebels who occupied the Alamo. The battle was fought from Feb. 24 to March 6, 1836 as roughly 180 men fought 5,000 of Santa Ana's troops.

"Alamo movies stir pride in Texans, so many people came so far to fight for us," Gibbons said.

With a battle cry "Remember the Alamo!" the Sam Houston led Texicans, as they were called then, defeated the Mexicans six weeks later, April 21 in 18 minutes at San Jacinto.

Yet, more movies are made about the Texas loss, rather than the Texas win.

A similar San Jacinto battle cry was heard around SkyDome -- "Remember the Alomar!"-- after Robbie Alomar left and fans watched the likes of Domingo Cedeno, Carlos Garcia and Homer Bush.

Growing up, Gibbons attended Douglas MacArthur High School, playing football and baseball for the I-Shall-Returns or whatever they were called. He was "a blocking back and short-yardage situation guy" in football.

Johnny Bench, the Hall of Fame catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, was his favourite player.

"My high school coach had Cincinnati Reds scout Joe Caputo come to see me in my junior year," Gibbons said. "After that I caught the baseball fever."

CITO FROM SAME TOWN

Cito Gaston was also from San Antonio, which means Gibbons (21 games) and Gaston (1,316) have managed 1,337 of the franchise's 4,382 games.

Other major-league, San Antonio roses are Davey Johnson, former Jay Heathcliff Johnson, Danny Heep, Billy Smith, brothers Rick and Mickey Mahler.

Mickey Mahler threw the final pitch of his eight-year career for the Jays. Brought on to get a lefty, he plunked the hitter on the first pitch and was removed.

In his first managing stint since triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre in 1990, Gibbons, as the IM, wishes he'd had more wins.

"I saw it as a coach, but when things start happening with a young pitching staff, they happen quick," Gibbons said when asked the biggest surprise about managing in the majors.

"You have to make sure you have someone warmed up."

And finally, why are their more car rental companies named Alamo than San Jacinto?