Thursday, November 3, 2011

Matty Alou 1938-2011

It was announced today that one of the foundations of Dominican Baseball in the Major Leagues passed away at the age of 72. A member of the famous Alou brothers, Mateo "Matty" Rojas Alou was one of the early players from the Dominican Republic to play in the Majors. Alou was signed as a free agent by the New York Giants in 1957 and spent four seasons playing within the minor leagues. Alou would make his debut for the San Francisco Giants on September 26, 1960. Alou had a 15-year career in the majors playing for the San Francisco Giants (1960-65), Pittsburgh Pirates (1966-70), The St. Louis Cardinals (1971-72, 1973), Oakland Athletics (1972), New York Yankees (1973) and the San Diego Padres (1974).

Alou was a spray hitter with very little power. Though he led the National League with a .342 batting average during the 1966 season, his best season in the majors was was 1969 when batted .332 and had 48 RBI. In a league leading 698 at-bats (746 plate appearances), Alou led the league with 231 hits (41 2B/6 3B/1HR), 42 walks, 35 stikeouts and 22 stolen bases (in 30 attempts). Alou played every game of the 1969 season starting 160 of those games in Center-field (1 in Left-field). In total, he wasa 2-time All-Star who ended his career with 1,777 hits and a .307 batting average.

Upon his retirement in 1974, Alou took his talents to Japan playing three seasons with the then Taiheiyo Club Lions of the Nippon Baseball League (1973–1976). He also spent a considerable time playing for notably the Leones of Escogido in the Dominican Winter Leagues.

In an interesting twist, my college in the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, William Tasker of the Flagrant Fan seems to have debunked a myth surrounding the Alou Brothers. It has been believed that the three brothers started a game together in the same outfield during the 1963 season. Through researching box scores from that year, he seems to have proven it to the contrary. Give the article a read: Did All Three Alou Brothers Really Start the Same Game?

I can remember growing up and my mom telling me stories of lo famoso hermanos Alou of which Matty was the middle brother between Felipe and Jesus. En paz descanse hermano. Gracias en ser un orgullo Dominicano.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Matty Alou's Major League career statistics from
-Click Here to access Matty Alou's career Minor and Major League statistics from
- Click Here to access Freddy Tapia's article Fallece el destacado pelotero Mateo de la trilogía Rojas Alou from the Listin Diario website dated November 3, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Adios Chicago Hola Miami

Not that any of us should be surprised, but controversy and Ozzie Guillen are once again walking hand-in hand. The 8-year love and hate affair between the Chicago White Sox and Ozzie Guillen has come to an end. In a bizarre twist, manager Ozzie Guillen was released of his duties so that he could pursue a deal with the Florida Marlins. It is believed that he will be announced as the manager of the Marlins tomorrow afternoon. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that since Guillen had one year remaining on his contract with the White Sox, the Marlins will have to trade two prospects as compensation for Guillen.

There had been many rumors to the effect that the Florida Marlins have been interested in hiring Ozzie Guillen as their manager for next season. With the Marlins looking at a major franchise change for the 2012 season, it is only natural that they would want to make a splash. What changes will we expect from the Marlins? They will open a new stadium, a new logo and a new name in the form of the Miami Marlins. Hiring Ozzie Guillen makes sense in that they are trying to tap into the large Latino population that lives in Miami and as we've seen multiple times, Guillen knows how to keep the spotlight burning hot on himself and his team. As the sayings go: Any publicity is good publicity and There's no such thing as bad publicity. We'll see how that part of Ozzie will play out in Miami.

What we do know his teams win for him. in 8-seasons with the White Sox, Guillen compiled a 678-617 record for a winning percentage of .524 and the White Sox only had two losing seasons under Guillen. Their best season was the 2005 season where the White Sox finished with a 99-63 record and brought the World Series trophy to a starved city of Chicago with a sweep of the Houston Astros. The cafes and restaurants of the Little Havana neighborhood in Miami will be super-charged with strong black coffee and baseball talk. Bienvenidos to Miami Ozzie. Buena suerte. Quizas lo vas a necesitar.


For Further Reading
- Click Here to Access Ozzie Guillen's career managerial statistics from
- Click Here to access Mark Gonzales' article Sox set to receive two players for Guillen from the Chicago Tribune website dated September 27, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The First All Black-Latino MLB Starting Lineup

September 1 in Major League Baseball is known as the day when the rosters are expanded to accommodate the minor leaguers that have earned a brief promotion to the major leagues. But on September 1, 1971 in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania something happened in a major league baseball game that had never happened before. 

Pirates manager Danny Murtagh had prepared the lineup that he planned to field against the Philadelphia Phillies as he would have done for any other game for the exception of one little detail. Before I go into the little detail, here is the lineup:

Rennie Stennett (2B)
Gene Clines (CF)
Roberto Clemente (RF)
Willie Stargell (LF)
Manny Sanguillen (C)
Dave Cash (3B)
Al Oliver (1B)
Jackie Hernandez (SS)
Dock Ellis (P)

What was different about this lineup from any other lineup that Murtagh  (or any other manager in Major League baseball up to that point) had ever written up was that this lineup was the first starting lineup that was made up of players of color. Considering  that they color line was broken only 24 years prior by Jackie Robinson in 1947, it was an amazing and historic event.

Was there a reason past just winning the game for Murtagh's decision? It's hard to say. Murtagh had been quoted as such when asked about the lineup for the article "Pirates Starters All Black" which was printed in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin:

"When it comes to making out the lineup, I'm color blind and my athletes know it. They don't know it because I told them, but they know it because they are familiar with the way I operate."

The Pirates roster was a cosmopolitan blend of 14 whites, six African-Americans and seven Latinos. According to Bruce Markensen's article Thirty Years Ago...The First All-Black Lineup:

In 1971 the Pirates represented baseball’s most heavily integrated team, with black and Latino players accounting for nearly fifty percent of the club’s roster.  The Pirates also featured one of baseball’s most harmonious teams, with friendships and gatherings often crossing racial lines

The reason for the team being called the "All-Black team" rather than let's say the "All-Black/Latino Team" (as I chose to do so) is that at the time there wasn't much in the way of distinguishing African American and Latino players past the color of their skin which always seemed to upset Roberto Clemente. Clemente always stressed that he was Puerto Rican and should be regarded as a Latino because of it rather than the color of skin. So what happened in the game?

In front of just 11,278 fans, the Pirates defeated the Phillies by a score of 10-7. History and continued progress was made that day.


For Further Reading:
There are two excellent articles that cover the subject of the Pittsburgh pirates starting lineups of September 1, 1971

- Click Here to access Bruce Markensen's article Thirty Years Ago...The First All-Black Lineup from

- Click Here to access Charlie Vascellaro's article Bucs broke ground with first all-minority lineup dated September 1, 2011 from 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Roberto Alomar HOF 2011

On Sunday July 24, 2011 Puerto Rican second baseman Roberto Alomar joined pitcher Bert Blyleven and longtime Baseball executive Pat Gillick as the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Alomar was elected in his second year of eligibility with 90 percent of vote. According to the Baseball Writers of America's website:

Alomar, who was in his second year on the ballot, received 523 votes, the third highest total in history, for a 90-percent plurality. He was the 26th player to reach the 90-percent level in BBWAA elections.

In a 17-year career (with with the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks), Alomar was a career .300 hitter with 2724 hits (504 2B/80 3B/210 HR) 1508 runs and 1134 RBI. Alomar stole 474 bases (in 588 attempts) struck out 1140 times and walked 1032 times. Alomar's OPS was .814 (.371 OBP/.443 SLG). Alomar was a 12-time All-Star (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001) won a record 10 Gold Gloves at second base 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001) and won 4 Silver Slugger awards (1992, 1996, 1999, 2000). Alomar was in the top ten of the MVP vote five times (1991, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2001), was an important part of the 1992 and 1993 World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays winning the Most Valuable Player of the 1992 American League Championship Series and MVP of the 1998 All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver.

With his induction, Alomar becomes the 3rd Puerto Rican in the Hall of Fame joining Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda.  

Felicitaciones Roberto en su consagración en el Salón de la Fama.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Roberto Alomar's career statistics from

Friday, July 22, 2011

Looking at Venezuelan Enyelbert Soto of the Chunichi Dragons

I try to profile Latino players that are currently playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) to bring awareness to players who may not have reached their potential while playing in MLB. Last season I profiled Venezuelan outfielder Alex “Rami-chan” Ramirez of the Yomiuri Giants. This season I’ve decided to profile another Venezuelan, pitcher Enyelbert Soto of the Chunichi Dragons.

Soto was originally signed by the Houston Astros as an undrafted free agent in 1999 and seemed to retire voluntarily in 2002 (Why? I can’t seem to find out. When I do I’ll update the post). Soto made his return with the Astros organization in January of 2003 and started pitching for the Greenville Astros of the Rookie Appalachian League in 2004. In 24 games, Soto went 1-1 with a 1.03 ERA with 13 saves in 35.0 innings pitched. Soto struck out 47 while walking only 2 while giving up 30 hits and 10 runs for a WHIP of 0.91. His performance at Greenville led to his promotion to Class A- Tri-City Valley Cats of the New York-Penn League.

In parts of two seasons at Tri-City (2004-2005), Soto went 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA in 10 games with 12.0 innings pitched. He struck out 15 while walking 4 while giving up 11 hits and 6 runs for a WHIP of 1.250. Soto spent the remainder of the 2005 season with the Lexington Legends of the Class A South Atlantic League. In 16 games, Soto went 2-1 with a 4.44 ERA with 2 saves in 26.1 innings pitched. He struck out 16 and walked 2 while giving up 36 hits and 14 runs for a WHIP of 1.443. The next stop for Soto was with the Salem Avalanche of the Class Advanced A Carolina League.

In parts of two seasons with Salem (2006-2007), Soto posted a 5-5 record with a 2.14 ERA with 2 saves in 92.2 innings pitched. He struck out 67 while walking 32 while giving up 92 hits and 32 runs for a WHIP of 1.338. Soto would finish the remainder of the 2007 season with the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Class AA Texas League. In 6 games at Corpus Christi Soto compiled a 1-0 record with a 10.00 ERA in 9 innings pitched. Unlike his other stops in the minors, Soto seemed to have a difficulty with the batters in AA. Soto struck out 9 while walking 13 and giving up 16 hits and 12 runs for a WHIP of 3.222. That’s where Soto’s minor league experience ends and he seems to just disappear from organized baseball.

Then I notice that Patrick Newman of posted the following in his article Chunichi Notes: Chen, Soto dated January 24, 2011:

the Dragons will look at another lefty this spring. 28 year-old Venezuelan Enyelbert Soto will participate in Chunichi’s camp on a trial basis. Soto has minor league experience in the Astros organization and played in Italy last season.

Soto made the team and as of today he has been exceptionally productive for the Dragons. In 12 games, he is 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA 17.1 innings pitched. His strikeout to walk ratio seems to have normalized with his striking out 11 with only 2 walks and giving up 16 hits and only 4 runs for a WHIP of 1.052. His last appearance on July 19th was his first start in Japan in which he pitched 5 innings of 1-run ball allowing 4 hits and striking out 2 while not walking a batter.

So what does this mean for Soto? Has the change of scenery worked to his benefit? Are the hitters that he is facing in the NPB of lesser quality than those he had trouble with in AA? I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t a specific reason for his initial success in his first season in Japan. All I can tell is that he is doing his job coming out of the bullpen and now starting for the second place Chunichi Dragons. I will take a look at his progress during the second half of the NPB season. Sayonara and Adios.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Enyelbert Soto's career minor league statistics from
- Click Here for Enyelbert Soto's career minor league statistics from
- Click Here for Enyelbert Soto's page from the website
- Click Here for the article Soto solid as Dragons rout Giants from the Japan Times Online dated July 19, 2011

A Return Look at Juan Miranda

Back in October of 2010 in a post called Juan Miranda's Chances in MLB, I looked at whether the Cuban born and Dominican nationalized could succeed in the Majors. With half of the 2011 season done, I've decided to take a look at Miranda's performance for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I have to say, that as optimistic that I was, I might have to agree with various bloggers that Miranda might not be MLB material. 

As of today, Miranda is no longer with the Diamondbacks, having been optioned to AAA Reno Aces of the Pacific Coast League (PCL). Coming out of Spring training Miranda was slated to be the team's regular first baseman. That plan never fully came to fruition since Miranda was platooned with Xavier Nady and Russell Branyan. His production with the bat was also a determining factor in his not becoming the starting first baseman.

Miranda had a solid month of may where he batted .262 with 4 homers and 12 RBI and an OPS of .915 (.377 OBP%/.538 SLG%) and seemed to get into a solid rhythm. But his lack of performance in June was marked by a .151 batting average and an OPS of .494 (.211 OBP%/.283 SLG%). His slide continued into July with a slightly better .176 batting average and an OPS of .594 (.300 OBP%/.294 SLG%). 

At the time of his demotion, Miranda's statistics for the season were: batting average of .213 with 37 hits (8 2B/2 3B/7 HR) with 23 RBI. His OPS was .717 (.315 OBP%/.402 SLG%) with 23 walks and 48 strikeouts. So where does this leave Miranda. 

AAA prospect Brandon Allen, who many believed was the favorite to play  first for the Diamondbacks during Spring Training has been called up and will step into the same platoon that Miranda was in with Nady and Branyan. Barring injury, I can't see Miranda being called up to the big leagues until September. Shame, I thought that the change of scenery and a new opportunity would help him. I guess we need to make the best of said opportunity and for whatever reason, Miranda was not able to.

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Amit Lal's article Diamondbacks Roster Shuffling - Allen, Enright, and Blum Up, Heilman, Pena, and Miranda Down dated July 19, 2011 from
- Click Here for Amit Lal's article Is it Time for the Diamondbacks to make a change at 1B? dated July 2, 2011 from

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Black" Latino Pioneers

I recently read an article by Kevin Hunter on the website called Who Was The Last Team To Integrate? and after doing so, I starting thinking about the members of the list. As history states, Jackie Robinson was the first black man to break the color barrier when he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947 and the last black man to integrate was Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green debuting for the Boston Red Sox on July 21, 1959. You might be asking yourselves: Why Does This Apply to a Latinoball blog? Let me post the list and I'll point out the Latino perspective in the list:

Brooklyn Dodgers – Jackie Robinson (1947)
Cleveland Indians – Larry Doby (1947)
St. Louis Browns – Hank Thompson (1947)
New York Giants – Hank Thompson (1949)
Boston Braves – Sam Jethroe (1950)
Chicago White Sox – Minnie Minoso (1951)
Philadelphia Athletics – Bob Trice (1953)
Chicago Cubs – Ernie Banks (1953)
Pittsburgh Pirates – Curt Roberts (1954)
St. Louis Cardinals – Tom Alston (1954)
Cincinnati Reds – Nino Escalera (1954)
Washington Senators – Carlos Paula (1954)
New York Yankees – Elston Howard (1955)
Philadelphia Phillies – John Kennedy (1957)
Detroit Tigers – Ozzie Virgil (1958)
Boston Red Sox – Pumpsie Green (1959)

Here goes the Latino point of view. On the list are four players who are Latino: Saturnino Orestes Armas "Minnie" Miñoso Arrieta , Saturnino Cuadrado " Nino" Escalera, Carlos Paula Conill, and Osvaldo Jose Virgil Sr. (Pichardo). The reason why they are considered pioneers in being the first "black" players on their respective teams though based on our modern day view of color, Miñoso and possibly Paula could be considered black due to the color of their skin. But prior to 1947, if a player was dark skinned or of African descent then they were not allowed to play in the Major Leagues, often playing in the Negro Leagues and in the Caribbean leagues where a person of faced less resistance due to his race and heritage.

The irony is that Latinos were playing in organized Baseball since 1869 with Esteban Bellan and in the Major League since 1902 with Luis Castro of the Cincinnati Reds (For more information on who the first Latinos in Baseball were, refer to my blogpost 1st Latino Pioneers). As per Matt Welch in his article The Cuban Senators by 1950, a total of 43 Cubans and 11 other Latinos had appeared in the Major Leagues. The reason that there were so many Cubans was that the major leagues teams were tapping into the Cuban talent similar to how many major league teams have academies in the Dominican Republic and other Latino countries today. Once Fidel Castro turned Cuba into a full fledged Communist state, the pipeline of professional players coming from Cuba closed. No longer were professional sports a part of the fabric of Cuba's athletics. Amateur sports became the dominant form of athletics with the Cubans dominating Amateur baseball for decades. With that talent stream closed, new ones opened up in The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama and Mexico. But I'm geting ahead of myself.

I wanted to give a brief descriptions of the four "black" Latino pioneers that crossed the color barriers within the Major Leagues. Of the four, Cuban Minnie Miñoso can be considered having the most successful career. Miñoso started his professional career in the Negro Leagues and after debuting in the Majors with the Cleveland Indians in 1947 he would become the Chicago White Sox's player to integrate in 1951 and he would go and play in the Majors in five different decades, finally retiring in 1980 at the age of 57. His best season was in 1954 when Miñoso batted .320 with 19 HR and 116 RBI. In 568 AB, Miñoso had 182 hits (29 2B/18 3B/19 HR) with 46 strikeouts, 77 walks, 18 stolen bases. and an OPS of .946 (.411 OBP/.535 SLG). In total Miñoso was a 7-time American League All-Star (1951-1954, 1957, 1959-1960) and a 3-time Gold Glove Winner (1957, 1959, 1960).

In contrast to Miñoso, Nino Escalera's career was limited to only one Major League season. A native of Puerto Rico, Escalera debuted with the Cincinnati Reds in 1954 and appeared in only 73 games. Escalera appeared in 1,556 minor league games batting a career .293. He would later work as a major league scout for the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets. In a bit of baseball trivia, according the blogger J.G. Preston in his post The forgotten left-handed throwing shortstop, Escalera (as the title of the post states) is the last left-handed throwing shortstop in the major leagues.

Though his career was not as brief as Escalera's, Cuban Carlos Paula also had a relatively short Major League career. Debuting with the Washington Senators in 1954, Paula played for a total of three seasons with his best season being 1955. In that season, Paula batted .299 with 6 HRs and 45 RBI in 351 AB. Paula retired from the Major Leagues at the end of the 1956 season.

Ozzie Virgil bears the distinction of not only being the first black player to play for the the Detroit Tigers in 1961, more importantly, Virgil is the first player from the Dominican Republic to play in the major leagues. Virgil debuted with the New York Giants in 1956 and played a total of 9 season with 5 teams from 1956-1967. Virgil's best season was 1957 when he batted .237 with 4 HR and 24 RBI in 226 AB. Virgil is also the father of former major league player Ozzie Virgil Jr.

So there you have it. As I come across more interesting blogs and articles that relate to Latino ballplayers, I'll do my best to add to their stories.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Inductees to El Salón de la Fama del Béisbol Latino

El Salón de la Fama del Béisbol Latino held its annual induction ceremony this past 12th of February at the Altos de Chavon amphitheater in La Romana, Dominican Republic. This year's class joined those Latinos already enshrined in Cooperstown as the second class.

This year's inductees are (Click on the link to read a bio on the player):

Luis Tiant (Cuba)
Ricardo Carty (Dominican Republic)
Fernando Valenzuela (Mexico)
Denis Martinez (Nicaragua)
Manuel Sanguillen (Panama)
Edgar Martinez (Puerto Rico)
Andres Galarraga (Venezuela)

The Veterans Committee also selected the following individuals:

Adolfo Luke aka Luque (Cuba)
Horacio Martinez (Dominican Republic)
Chile Gómez (Mexico)
Hector Lopez (Panama)
Ruben Gomez (Puerto Rico)
Oscar Prieto (Venezuela)
Vidal Lopez (Venezuela),

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was given el "Premio de Exellencia" for his becoming the youngest Latino ballplayer to reach the 600 homeruns plateau. To see video of Alex Rodriguez's speech, click here: Celebrity spotting at the Salon de la Fama: Alex Rodriquez and Cameron Diaz!

Feel free and check out the website for El Salón de la Fama del Béisbol Latino.