Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vicente Lopez starred for Almendares

Former Cuban League star Vicente Lopez died on July 16 in Miami. He was 83.

Here's the Spanish-language obituary that ran in Diario Las Americas.

Lopez was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. In 10 Cuban League seasons with Almendares, Cienfuegos, Habana and Marianao, he compiled a 21-16 record with a 3.73 ERA. His best season coming during the 1950-51 season when he led the league with a .700 winning percentage (7-3) while notching a 2.64 ERA with Almendares.

Born in Cotorro, in the province of Havana in 1927, Lopez was 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in three Caribbean World Series (1949, 1950 and '57).

A career minor leaguer, Lopez went 8-11 with a 2.71 ERA for the 1952 Havana Cubans and played two seasons with the Havana Sugar Kings.

But he began is professional career in the United States playing against the Havana Cubans, pitching for the Miami Sun Sox of the Florida International League in 1949. That season he won the inaugural game at Miami Stadium, upsetting the perennial pennant winning Cubans, 6-1.

"The only run they got off me, they got with two outs in the ninth inning," Lopez told me during an interview in 2000. "I never thought the stadium would be filled because Miami was such a small town at that time. There were fans on the field [behind roped-off areas] down the right-field and left-field lines."

Lopez went 18-9 and 20-6 in his two seasons with the Sun Sox but never made it out of the Brooklyn Dodgers' farm system to reach the majors.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On this date: Roberto Ortiz was born

June 30: On this date in 1915, Roberto Ortiz was born in Camaguay, Cuba.

The 6-foot-4 first baseman, El Gigante, "The Giant" as he was known in Cuba, played six major-league seasons -- mostly with the Washington Senators -- between 1941-50.

He was a star for Almendares in the Cuban League, so much so he was the subject of a 1952 movie, Honor y Gloria: La Vida de Roberto Ortiz, starring Ortiz as himself.

It's pretty cheesy, but it does have brief footage from actualy Cuban League games.

Ortiz died in Miami on Sept. 15, 1971 at the age of 56.