The great “Miñoso” was born in 1925

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Saturnino Orestes Armas (Arrieta) Miñoso was born in El Perico, Cuba, a town near La Habana, on this day in 1925.   He learned to play ball in the sugar cane fields.

Orestes made his debut in 1948 with Cleveland but became a regular in 1951 with the Chicago White Sox.   From 1951 to 1961, “The Cuban comet”, as he was known, was one of the most consisent hitters in the American League.   He led the AL in triples 3 times, once in hits, and 4 times in stolen bases.

Overall, he retired with a .298 career batting average and 1, 963 hits.   His average dropped under .300 because of his last 3 years when he was no longer the same hitter.

The great “Miñoso” died in 2015 and remains one of the most popular players in White Sox history.

Happy # 76 to the great Luis Tiant

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We say happy # 76 to the great Tiant.

Luis Tiant was born in Marianao in 1940.

His father was Luis Eleuterio Tiant, who pitched professionally in the old Negro Leagues in the US as well as in Mexico.   This is how they remember Tiant’s father at The Society for American Baseball Research:

The elder Tiant was famous for a variety of outstanding pitches (including a screwball, spitball, and knuckleball), a tremendous pickoff move, and an exaggerated pirouette pitching motion. As late as 1947, at the age of 41, Luis put together a 10-0 record for the New York Cubans and pitched in the East-West All-Star Game. Monte Irvin claimed that Luis would have been a “great, great star” had he been able to play in the major leagues

Tiant made his debut in 1964 with Cleveland:   10-4, 9 complete games, 3 shutouts and a 2.83 ERA.    He led the AL in 1968 with a 1.60 ERA!

We remember Tiant with Boston and specially the 1975 post-season.

Luis retired with 229 wins, a 3.30 ERA and 189 complete games.

In my opinion, he should be in The Hall of Fame.   Let’s hope that he is put in the next time around.

Happy # 83 Orlando Peña

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Orlando Peña was born in Victoria de las Tunas on this day in 1933.   He is part of a shrinking number of Cuban players who played in the island and the major leagues.

Orlando broke with the Reds in 1958 and was traded to the Kansas City A’s where he became a regular starting pitcher.

There were several other Cubans in the 1963 A’s:   Hector Martinez, Aurelio Monteagudo, Jose Tartabull, Joe Azcue & Diego Segui.

Unfortunately, the A’s had very bad teams but Orlando did win 34 games over 3 and a half seasons.   He had 184 strikeouts in 1964 to finish 6th in the AL.

He bounced around after that and I remember watching him with the Orioles in 1973.

Orlando won 56 games but had a very good 3.71 ERA over all of those years.

Happy # 83 Orlando Peña.

1975: Big day for Luis Tiant

We remember Luis Tiant’s career because he won 229 games in the majors.   He also led the AL in ERA in 1968 and 1972.

Today, we recalled that he pitched a brilliant 6-0 shutout against Cincinnati in game 1 of the 1975 World Series.    He did it against a lineup that included Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, fellow Cuban Tony Perez, David Concepcion, George Foster and a few others.   They were called The Big Red Machine for a reason!

Tiant came back and won game 4 with a complete game that featured 163 pitches!   He started game 6, after a few days of rain, but did not get a decision.  That was the game where Carlton Fisk hit the HR in the bottom of the 12th.

We remember the man they called “El Tiante” and his brilliant pitching on this day in 1975.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Happy # 73 to Jose Cardenal

We remember Jose Cardenal, a pretty good outfielder born in Matanzas, Cuba on this day in 1943.

Cardenal broke with the Giants in 1963 at age 19.   He played with the Angels, Indians, Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Phillies, Mets and retired with the Royals.

His best years were with the Chicago Cubs 1972-77.   He had a 296 batting average and a .363 On Base Pct in 6 seasons.   Jose became a real fan favorite at Wrigley Field in the 1970’s, as we can see in this cover of Baseball Digest.

Cardenal retired with a .275 career average and 1,913 hits.  He made it to The World Series with Kansas City in 1980.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

What a shock: Jose Fernandez dead at 24!

Apr 13, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez (16) throws in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We just learned that Jose Fernandez, the very talented young righthander with the Marlins is dead.   He was apparently killed in a boating accident but details are still emerging.

He was an awesome young talent and quite an inspiration:

Fernandez was winding down his best big league season, posting a 16-8 record with a 2.86 ERA.  The hard-throwing right-hander set a franchise record with 253 strikeouts this season, and his 12.49 strikeouts per nine innings rank tops in the Majors.  Fernandez’s path to the big leagues is inspirational.  Three times he tried unsuccessfully to defect from his native Cuba before arriving in the United States at age 15.   He settled in Tampa, Fla., and became a sensation.  Fernandez was Miami’s first-round pick in 2011, and at age 20 he broke into the big leagues, becoming an All-Star and the National League Rookie of the Year in 2013.

RIP Jose.   Quite a shock!

Stolen Legacy and Celia Cruz

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You got to be kidding?!!! Celia Cruz will be part of the new African-American Museum in Washington, DC. During her lifetime, Celia was proud of her Cuban heritage, of her Hispanic culture, of her Latin fans. She was a proud Latina, and her memories belong in a Latino museum!

See: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/entertainment/2016/09/15/dress-worn-by-celia-cruz-to-go-on-display-at-new-african-american-museum/

We remember Sandy Consuegra (1920-2005)

Sandalio Simeon (Castellon) Consuegra was born in Potrerillos, Cuba in 1920.   He was drafted by the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins) after pitching for Havana in the Florida International League in 1949-50.

Sandy broke in the majors in 1950 and started 18 games.   He played for Washington and Chicago White Sox for a few more years.

His best season was 1954 with Chicago:  16-3 an an excellent 2.69 ERA.    He won 51 games in his career.

Rory Costello of The Society of American Baseball Research wrote this excellent summary of Consuegra’s career:

“Consuegra was a swingman, a role that has vanished with five-man rotations and specialized bullpens. He started 71 times in 248 appearances in the majors. He had only 26 saves, since that was not the focus for relievers in his time. He got batters to put the ball in play.

In 809 1/3 innings pitched, he struck out just 2.1 men per nine innings – but his walk ratio was 2.7, he allowed almost exactly one hit per inning, and he kept the ball in the park, giving up just 43 homers.

Les Moss, who caught the Cuban with the White Sox in 1955-56, offered further insight. “Little Sandy Consuegra [he was 5’11” and 165 pounds] was a pretty good pitcher who fooled batters with an array of pitches, including an effective slider, and motions.”

Consuegra also won 52 games with Cienfuegos of the Cuban Winter League in the late 1950’s.

He married Blanca Ramos on July 28, 1943.  They had three children: Rogelio, Silvia, and Norma.

Consuegra and wife left Cuba and was active in youth baseball in Miami.   He died in 2005.

P.S.  I hope that someone tells his grandchildren that he ranks # 15 among the great Chicago White Sox pitchers! 

 

July 3, 1968: A super day for Luis Tiant

 

On this day in 1968, Luis Tiant was just awesome:  19 Ks in 10 innings as Cleveland beats Minnesota 1-0!

Tiant finished the 1968 season: 21-9, a 1.60 ERA, 264 strikeouts and 19 complete games.    Unfortunately for Tiant, Denny McLain won 31 games that year and ran away with the AL Cy Young award.

Tiant was the AL starter in the 1968 All Star game.   He pitched 2 innings and gave up the game’s only run.    The NL beat the AL, 1-0.

Tiant’s excellent pitching put the Indians in 3rd place behind Detroit in the last season before divisions.

Overall, Luis Tiant won 229 games, with a 3.30 ERA and 187 complete games.

Of course, they will never forget him in Boston for pitching in the 1975 World Series.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

We remember Frank “Pancho” Herrera (1934-2005)

 

Juan Francisco (Villavicencio) Herrera was born June 16, 1934 in Santiago de las Vegas, Cuba.   He was known as Frank or Pancho or even Panchon.

Herrera began his baseball career in 1954 with La Habana in the Cuban Winter League.    His manager was the legendary Adolfo Luque, a major leaguer from the 1920’s.

The Philadelphia Phillies signed him in 1955 (their first black Latino player) and he spent the next few years between the minors and the Cuban league.    He played with fellow Cubans, Tony Gonzalez, Tony Taylor and Octavio Rojas in the Phillies’ organization.

His major league career was short but he hit .281 with 17 HR & 71 RBI in 1960.    He was second to Frank Howard in the 1960 Rookie of the Year vote!

He came back with 13 HR in 1961.   He was sent back to AAA in 1962 and hit 32 HR but never got another chance to play in the big leagues.    In retrospect, that’s hard to believe because Herrera proved that he could hit and expansion brought 4 new teams in 1961-62.

After the majors, Panchon played for various seasons in Mexico.  He led the league with 39 HR in 1969.   They remember him as one of the great power hitters in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico!   He was a big favorite there with Mexican baseball fans.

Herrera died in Miami in 2005.    We remember him as one of the last Cuban players to play in the US and the old Cuban Winter League.

Happy # 74 to Tony Perez, the pride of Ciego de Avila

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We remember today Atanasio (Rigal) Perez, the pride of Ciego de Avila and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Tony broke with the Cincinnati Reds in the summer of 1964.   He went on to have a wonderful major league career:  2,777 games, 2,732 hits, 379 HR, 1,659 RBI and a very good .279 career batting average.

Tony’s career was more than numbers. He was the steady bat in a Reds’ team that won 4 NL titles and the World Series in 1975 and 1976.

Willie Stargell spoke for many of his fellow players:  ““With men in scoring position and the game on the line…Tony’s the last guy an opponent wanted to see.””

Tony had many big hits for the Reds Machine in the 1970s.   He is best remembered for a big homer in game 7 of the 1975 World Series:

 

We remember Mike Cuellar (1937-2010)

 

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Question: Who was the first Latino to win the Cy Young Award? The answer is Mike Cuellar, who shared the award with Denny McLain in 1969.

We remember Miguel Angel Santana Cuellar today.

Mike was born May 8, 1937 in Las Villas.  He started in the Reds’ organization and played with The Sugar Kings, Havana’s AAA franchise. He spent the next few years between Cincinnati and Houston, where he won 16 games in 1967.

Cuellar was traded to the Orioles and won 139 games over the next 7 seasons. He was one of the most effective pitchers in the American League and won 20-games in 4 different seasons. He pitched a complete game to win the 1970 World Series for Baltimore.

During his brilliant career, he won 185 games to go with a 3.14 ERA. He also completed 172 starts!

Without question, one of the best Latino pitchers ever. Mike died in 2010.    He was voted # 27 in the Top 40 Orioles of all time.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.