NORWALK – Hundreds of family members, friends and neighbors gathered Saturday, May 16, at Gerdes Park to celebrate the life of David Michael “Moke” Rodriguez.
“Moke” was born in Lynwood in 1959 to David and Sally Rodriguez and is survived by his two brothers, Andy Rodriguez of Boise, Idaho, and Tony Rodriguez of Downey.
His brothers were younger and feisty, unlike Moke, who was described as a teddy bear type with a heart of Gold.
“It’s his smile that I will miss the most,” said his uncle, Gilbert.
Moke gained his nickname from the Spanish phrase “Mokoso”, which means “always having a runny nose.” However, there seems to be differing opinions as to where his nickname originated.
Growing up near the park which used to be called Encanto, Moke played baseball and eventually coached softball. As a young person in fourth grade, Ken Diciolla met the Rodriguez boys in a manner befitting many youth: through fighting.
“I broke a finger and Andy had a black eye,” said Diciolla, describing how he first met Moke. “It was because of the fight.”
“Andy said to me, I’m gonna get my brother and he’s gonna kick your ass!”
“When I met his brother Moke and saw how big he was, we were best friends from then on,” exclaimed Diciolla.
His wife, Carolyn Rodriguez, though estranged at the time of his passing, reminded all at the gathering, “I loved him very much.” They met of course through their affinity of softball.
“He was a great softball player. I loved watching him play,” said Carolyn.
Moke played and was very good at many sports. At Excelsior High School, he excelled at football, basketball, and also baseball.
His brother Andy remembered, “There were a lot of colleges interested in Moke.”
As a first baseman on the 1977 Suburban League Championship team, Moke played along side lifelong friend, who else, Ken Diciolla. Also on the team was brother Andy.
As a senior, Moke made First Team All-Suburban League in both football and baseball.
Younger brother Tony was playing junior varsity and would move up to varsity his senior year, winning a JV title in 1978 as well.
After high school, Moke took his baseball skills to the softball field. He played, coached and umpired the sport until his first bout with diabetes took him off the playing field several years ago.
He played primarily on the Amigos Softball Club in Norwalk where eventually all three Rodriguez brothers would wear the same jerseys.
Speaking at the beginning of the remembrances, younger brother Andy Rodriguez said, “Wow, this is a high school reunion, a family reunion and a softball reunion covering all aspect of his life.”
Andy thanked all in attendance including sharing that he and his brother were “Greatly thankful to Mayor Leonard Shryock” for helping secure the use of the auditorium and gazebo at Gerdes Park.
Many in the crowd wore “Moke’s Homies,” T-shirts as well as Dodger jerseys. Moke was an avid Dodger fan.
While not perfect, “Nobody is” commented a somber Carolyn Rodriguez as she spoke of her late husband.
“I truly loved him to the day he died.”
Michael “Moke” Rodriguez was cremated as per his wishes.
As obvious by the large gathering, he was loved by hundreds both young and old.