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.

The great Cuban baseball “9”

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oliva

 

The baseball season starts today and tomorrow……..so we would like to share a show that we did years ago……..it is long so please be patient……..in the first segment, Enrique Hubbard from Mexico tells us about the great black Cubans who played in the Mexican league before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947………in the second segment, the Reyes brothers from New York joined me and we put together the Cuban baseball 9………by the way, our friend Ziva can be heard on this show…….you will learn a lot about Cuban baseball…….enjoy it!

 

Remembering some of the great Cuban players of major league history………https://t.co/WpZclsq4jj

Happy # 82 to Camilo Pascual

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As a young kid, my favorite Cuban baseball player was Camilo Pascual.  He pitched most his career for the original Washington Senators who became the Minnesota Twins in 1961.

As a Senator, Pascual pitched for very bad teams.   It got better when the team moved to Minnesota and the Twins became a perennial contender with a young Harmon Killebrew, power hitter Bob Allison,  the very good lefty Jim Kaat and fellow Cubans Tony Oliva & Zoilo Versalles.

His numbers were great with the Twins:   20-11 in 1962 and 20-9 in 1963.     He led the league in strikeouts 3 years in a row.  In other words, he was one of the best right handed pitchers in baseball.

Overall, he won 176 games with a very good 3.63 career ERA.    He would have easily won 230 games with a better team!

We say happy birthday to one of my heroes.    I don’t know what Camilo is doing these days.   I read a few years ago that he was scouting for the Twins in Latin America.

Happy birthday to the great Camilo.