Sunday, October 22, 2017

And Don't Forget This Type of Arroyo

In response to my earlier essay on “Canales, Arroyos andAcequias”, PH (a friend, baseball writer, and member of The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)) replied:
“And don't forget this type of arroyo...
The link brought me to a SABR article on Luis Arroyo, “a chunky little Puerto Rican southpaw [pitcher] whose out pitch was the screwball…. He spent just four full seasons in the majors, plus parts of four others, from 1955 through 1963. He enjoyed modest success overall as a big-leaguer, but he had one outstanding season. That was 1961, when he helped the New York Yankees win their 19th World Series title by posting a 15-5 record out of the bullpen with 29 saves.”
In Arroyo’s words, “I keep the hitters guessing and I can usually get my stuff over the plate. There’s not much more to pitching than that.”

When I was growing up my father and I were devoted Yankees fans.  He unexpectedly passed away in 1960 during my senior year of high school.  And although my enthusiasm for the Bronx Bombers was waning because of that and other teen-age reasons, I still fondly remember Luis Arroyo. 
As a young follower of what was at that time truly then “The National Pastime” I had for some reason a particular affinity for Hispanic and Latino players.  I think part of it was just the rhythm of their names – lyrical and somewhat exotic to the ear of a working class white kid, growing up in a working class white town. 
This was not true in all cases though.  Roberto Clemente yes – as well as Chico Carrasquel and Orestes “Minnie” Minoso.  Cuban shortstop Willie Miranda not so much.  But – the exception that proves the rule  – Guillermo Miranda Perez, his full name, became one of my favorite Yankees and remained so even after he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in the biggest (seventeen players) swap between two teams in major-league history.  The deal did however give the Yankees pitcher Don Larsen, whose “perfect game” in the 1956 World Series I was fortunate to be able to witness from the center field bleachers in Yankee Stadium with my father.
And this affection for euphonious Spanish names continues today – but now extends beyond the playing field.   Maybe even that consonance of sound is part of what attracted me to New Mexico. 
So I began to wonder about the etymology of the surname Arroyo – and discovered that Arroyo is what is termed a “habitation (or toponymic or location) name” –  meaning one that is derived from the inhabited location associated with the person given that name.   Sometimes the name is directly taken from the proper name of a town like Rivera, Manuel, or Miranda.  Other times it describes the type of place, such as a waterway – an arroyo.
Or a canal, which spawned the family name of Michele Giuseppe Canale (1808−1890), Italian historian, Gianna Maria Canale (b. 1927), Italian Actress, Gonzalo Canale, Italian rugby player, and Giuseppe Canale (1725−1802), Italian painter and engraver.
This unfortunately however is not the case with acequia, which seems to have no representatives in the toponymic surname category.  There are however, according to, 2,399 Birth, Marriage, and Death records with the “occupational” hereditary name Mayordomo – descendants of former overseers of the community owned irrigation systems.
My own patronymic is Irish.  I know nothing of my grandparents (who died before I was born), or their forebears.  According to, Meehan derives “from the Gaelic O' Miadhachain, meaning the male descendant of the son of the honourable one!”  (Better than the alternative, but not that informative.)
However, according to Irish origin legends, the offspring of Milesius of Spain, King of Braganza, Father of the Irish Race, represent the majority of Gaels from the Emerald Isle.
Maybe my interest in Spanish nomenclature is really just an etymological search for my family roots.

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