(played as "Beristain" in Spain)
(also played as "Motrico")
Jose Mari Beristain
Born in Mutriku (3/30/37)
Married, 4 children (1 girl 3 boys)
Berista made his professional debut in Tampa in 1955-56. He played at many frontons in the US and Mexico, finally finishing his career at MGM Grand (Las Vegas) in 1979.
DYR: When, and in what fronton, did you make your pro debut?
"Well, let me think here ... I have a long, long list, ha, ha, ha. I made my debut in Tampa in 1955-56. I was 18 years old. I didn't play well so they fired me from Tampa. Three years later, Tampa offered me a contract, but I went to West Palm Beach."
Photo: Tampa, 1955
"In 1957-59, I played in Mexico (Acapulco).
May, 1959 I played in Daytona. In 1961,
I worked in Tijuana. Two years later I played in Dania. I also have played in Barcelona, Gernika and Markina. I retired from Las Vegas in 1979."
DYR: Jose Mari, tell us about your experiences as an amateur player.
"I have so many of them! It's not easy to remember things when you are almost 70 years old, ha, ha, ha. I played with and against great players including Egurbide, Orbea, Laca, Txurruka and many others. We practiced countless hours every week ... sometimes five or six hours every day. I had an old basquet that was heavy. In 1958, I played a tournament with Egurbide in Markina ... I learned a lot playing with him."
DYR: In what condition were the frontons back in those years?
"Some of them were old, but in good condition. Others were in terrible shape."
DYR: Do you have family members that played jai-alai?
"My uncle from Cuba played during the 1930's."
L to R:
DYR: In your opinion, who were the best players of all time (frontcourt and backcourt)?
"Well, I could give you many names, but I will give you my favorite list. Erdoza Menor, Ituarte 'Batakon', 'Piston' Navarrete, Guara Mayor, Txutxo Larrañaga, Ermua, Txurruka, Guara II and Txikito de Bolibar."
Standing, L to R:
Kneeling, L to R:
DYR: Jose Mari, you practiced until your late 50's ... is that true?
"Yes, it's true! But, I wish I could practice 50 more years, ha, ha, ha. The problem is now I have too many aches. My knee is not good and I have shoulder pain."
DYR: How is your normal day?
"I have a small shop where I sell lottery. I work six days a week. The doctor has told me that I need to exercise. I also have a small garden where I grow fruits."
DYR: If you were a kid again, would you like to be a pelotari?
"The answer is a big YES!"
Jose Mari Beristain today
Plaza Txurruka, Mutriku
Interview date: 11/14/05
© Copyright 2005, RSB Associates