Josu Elesgarai Beitia
Born in Mutriku (3/28/70)
Married, with two children
1993 - Milford - Most wins
2002 - Newport - Most wins
DYR: Tell us about you first steps as an amateur player.
"I was only six years old when I strapped a basquet on my hand. I used to practice with my grandfather in an uncovered (no roof) fronton. After a while they fixed the cancha so more kids started playing, with the help of a new jai-alai school (Danok Bat). At one point, there were about 150 kids playing in Mutriku. My first two mentors were Andres Egurbide and Eugenio 'Mixkia'. We used to play partidos against kids from Markina."
Santa Maria Magdalena
Serving with Spanish
Ferrol Naval Base,
DYR: In what fronton did you make your pro debut?
"I made my debut in December of 1992 in Bridgeport. I was 20 years old. I came to the US with high hopes of doing well in Connecticut. In the beginning, it was hard to change the chip to play quinielas. I didn't think five games were enough to play in one performance, and I wanted to play more games. I came to the States to play one season, and if I really liked the quiniela world, I would stay. If I didn't like it, I would have returned back home. In the end I liked the 'American way' to play jai-alai and I played 10 more years in Milford."
DYR: Many players have commented there was 'bad blood' amongst players in Milford. Is this true?
"It wasn't that bad. There were a couple of groups. Some of them didn't talk to others, but I think that happens in each and every fronton."
DYR: Were you expecting, or did you EVER expect, Milford Jai-Alai to close down in the manner it did in 2001?
"No. The owners were whining ... they were telling us that the fronton was losing money and they had to cut the salaries. We gave everything we had to Milford Jai-Alai and they thanked us by slamming the door in our faces. It was cruel what they did to us."
On the plane
DYR: Josu, do have family members that play, or played, jai-alai?
"My uncle, Patxi Beitia, played in Jakarta, Tampa, Ocala and Hartford. My brother (Asier Elesgarai Beitia) is currently working at Dania."
Brother Asier, at Dania
DYR: In your opinion, who are the greatest players of all time?
"Cachin Uriarte, Remen and Bolivar (when he didn't play matinees, ha, ha)."
DYR: What's going on with jai-alai (cesta punta)?
"I don't know ... I can't explain! I think the ETB (Basque television) should have more partidos ... like mano (handball). They have to advertise more, as well. Mano does the same thing, they advertise a lot! They have to do something because there are a lot of people out there that enjoy jai-alai."
DYR: What do you do nowadays?
"I reside in Mutriku with my family. We are trying to adjust to a new life here in our homeland. I'm trying to find a full-time job, but that is a hard task. I work for the local (municipal) police on the weekends and, during the week, I work in a car factory."
Beitia with daughter, Nahia
DYR: Do you practice?
"The last time I practiced was when my brother came to town on vacation. I really want to practice, but it's hard when you have a family to support and you work six days a week. Maybe some day, when I get time off from work, I will practice more frequently."
Josu Beitia today, in Mutriku
Interview date: 11/15/05
© Copyright 2005, RSB Associates