Jose Mercado loves baseball so much he spends almost all his time around the ball fields at Hamlin Park during the warm months, tending to the players and coaches of the Hamlin Park Baseball Association.
That's why they call him the Mayor of Hamlin Park.
Mercado is as protective of the kids who play in his baseball league as he is of his own son, Jose, who is 20 now, coaches a youth division team at Hamlin and still gets to shuttled to college by his dad.
The Mayor kind of reminds me of my old man, Mike Konkol, who spent his off time coaching my teams and running the Dolton Boys Baseball League (which got bulldozed by that town's mayor Bill Shaw), and later Thornwood High School's Booster Club.
When I run into guys from the old neighborhood they always ask about dad is getting along these days without ball games to video tape or pancake breakfasts to run — and I imagine little Jose gets the same thing from pals about his pop.
Guys like Mercado really do make a difference in a young ball players life long after they hang up the cleats.
But like all mayors, Mercado does have a dark side.
He's a Cubs fan.
But I won't hold it against him.
At least not today.