Monday, December 19, 2011

Cuban baseball legend, former Cuban League MVP Andres Fleitas dies at age 95

Sad news that Cuban League legend Andres Fleitas died Sunday of natural causes at age 95.

Click here for El Nuevo Herald's Spanish-language obituary.

Fleitas "was a star of the golden age of Cuban amateur baseball with Central Hershey and with Cuba in the Amateur World Series," Hall of Fame Marlins Spanish-language broadcaster Felo Ramirez told El Nuevo Herald. "Later he was a brilliant player in the professional Cuban League, where he was an excellent hitter and very clutch with runners on base."

Elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, Fleitas was the MVP of the fabled 1946-47 season, in which Almendares swept Habana in the teams’ final three-game series to win the pennant.

Fleitas, who batted .316 that season, tripled in the winning run in seventh inning in the second game of that series as Almendares beat Habana 2-1 behind a complete-game effort by Agapito Mayor. The next day, Fleitas was behind the plate as Max Lanier beat Habana 9-2 on one-day’s rest.

In 1997, I had the honor of interviewing Fleitas, show in this 1946-47 Sensacion premium.

During that interview, he recalled the final moments of Almendares' Cuban League-pennant clinching victory, considered perhaps the greatest season finale in Cuban League history:
"Behind home plate, I had to catch either the last out or one of the last outs in the crowd [of fans that was on the field behind ropes]. It was incredible. I calculated that there were close to 40,000 fans, with the 30,000-plus that fit in the stadium and the 2,000-3,000 that were on the field."

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