Diego Seguí: St. Louis, Boston, Hawaii, Seattle, Caracas and Mexico (Part III)

RHP Diego Seguí was the only major-leaguer to play for the 1969 Seattle Pilots and first (1977) Seattle Mariners franchise. He was the Pilots MVP in their one 1969 American League (AL) season. In 1970, he led the AL with a 2.56 ERA for Oakland. Seguí received a 1972 World Series ring with Oakland, years after the A’s traded him to St. Louis, June 7, 1972. He pitched a seven-inning perfect game, in Mexico, Class AAA, June 21, 1978. Part I covered his 1958 semi-pro ball to the 1967-68 winter season with Caracas. Part II focused on 1968 with Oakland-to-February 1-6, 1973 Caribbean Series. Part III includes his last (1973-75 and 1977) MLB seasons; winter ball in Venezuela; 1976 with Hawaii (Class AAA), featuring a Pacific Coast League (PCL) ERA crown; 1978 and 1980 Caribbean Series; and two seasons in Mexico, 1978-79.

St. Louis Cardinals (1973)

Normally, an 81-81 team like 1973 St. Louis would be well off the pace, but the 1973 NL East was won by the 82-79 New York Mets, managed by Yogi Berra, just 1.5 games ahead of St. Louis, Berra’s hometown. Seguí—skipper Red Schoendienst’s primary closer with 17 saves in 65 games; 100.1 innings, 93 strikeouts-to-53 walks and 2.78 ERA—won seven of 13 decisions. The team’s other 19 saves were split among Orlando Peña (six), Al Hrabosky (five), Wayne Granger (five) and Rich Folkers (three). Four main starters had winning records: Rick Wise (16-12), Reggie Cleveland (14-10), Alan Foster (13-9) and Bob Gibson (12-10). Gibson started 25 games, due to injuries, but had the lowest ERA (2.77) among, starters, slightly better than Seguí’a 2.78. An 8-23 start by St. Louis nearly derailed their NL East chances. They relied on “small ball” with only three regulars hitting 10 or more HR: Ted Simmons (13), Joe Torre (13) and José “Cheo” Cruz (10). Lou Brock stole 70 of their 100 SB, followed by Cheo Cruz’s 10 SB.

During the off-season, St. Louis made two major trades with Boston. First, they sent Bernie Carbo and Rick Wise to Boston, for Reggie Smith and Ken Tatum, on October 26, 1973. Six weeks later, Seguí, Reggie Cleveland and Terry Hughes went to Boston, for three hurlers: John Curtis, Mike Garman and Lynn McGlothen. (McGlothen had a 10-win, 130 strikeout season for the 1972-73 Arecibo Wolves in Puerto Rico; Garman was a native of Caldwell, Idaho, the birthplace of the author’s father.) Seguí must have wondered why he was traded so often? After all, he contributed to every organization he had been a part of.

Boston Red Sox (1974 and 1975)

Seguí’s last big-league roommate was Juan Marichal, destined for Cooperstown. “By 1975, we had our own hotel room, on the road,” said Seguí. “Marichal signed with Boston [for 1974], and he was my roommate during his time with the Red Sox.” Seguí was Darrell Johnson’s closer for the 84-78 Red Sox, third in the 1974 AL East. In 58 games, Seguí was credited with 10 of the club’s 18 saves; pitched 108 innings; fanned 76 hitters; won six and lost eight. “We had Rogelio “Roger” Moret and Juan Beníquez from Puerto Rico; of course, Luis Tiant, my compatriot, was our ace. Tiant, 22-13, pitched 311.1 innings, in completing 25 of 38 starts. Bill “Spaceman” Lee

completed 16 of 37 starts in going 17-15, but Reggie Cleveland (12-14) and oft-injured Rick Wise (3-4) were 1974 disappointments. Still, Seguí had two capable catchers—Carlton Fisk and Bob Montgomery. “Seguí and Marichal [5-1, 4.87 ERA] were our oldest pitchers, except for [38-year old] Bob Veale,” said Montgomery. “I got a lot of playing time due to Fisk’s injuries. Seguí was an asset to our club in 1974…we were a much better team in 1975.

The Red Sox were 95-65 in 1975, holding off a challenge by the Baltimore Orioles. Boston used 12 pitchers all season, but Seguí (2-5, 4.82 ERA and six saves) was mostly used in long relief; Dick Drago (15 saves) had the most saves. Seguí got one start, July 29, when Tiant had a sore shoulder. He pitched a CG versus Milwaukee, losing 4-0, fanning 11 and allowing 10 hits. Per Seguí’s SABR bio by Joanne Holbert, “(Seguí) pitched a hell of a game,” said (manager) Darrell Johnson, https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/diego-segui/ Moret (14-3, 3.60 ERA) was an excellent fifth starter/long reliever. Wise (19-12), Tiant (18-14), Lee (17-9) and Cleveland (13-9) were a solid quartet. Jim Willoughby (5-2, eight saves) and LHP Jim Burton (1-2, one save) helped in the bullpen. Boston hit 134 HR, led by Jim Rice’s 22 and Fred Lynn’s 21. Lynn, AL Rookie of the Year and MVP, played in the three-game sweep of Oakland, ALCS, and the historic seven-game World Series with Cincinnati, but Rice was not on the post-season roster, due to injury.

Segui did not pitch in the ALCS, but pitched a scoreless (eighth) frame at Cincinnati, Game Five, 1975 World Series. “Johnson made some questionable pitching moves,” recalled Seguí. “I was rested and available for Games Six and Seven…Lee threw that ‘lollipop’ to Tony Pérez, and we lost Game Seven. Give credit to Tiant for his performance against the Reds…”

Llaneros de Portuguesa (1975-76), Hawaii Islanders (1976) and Caracas Lions (1976-77)

Segui’s eighth winter in Venezuela was with the Llaneros de Portuguesa, a team of La Guaira Sharks and Caracas Lions players. This one-season “merger” or “fusión” was due to a rental issue with Caracas’s University Stadium. Thus, Segui pitched his home games in Acarigua, part of the Portuguesa State (Estado). He went 1-2 with a 2.88 ERA, in five starts. Teammates included a bevy of young “criollos”: Antonio “Tony” Armas, Bo Díaz, Luis Salazar, Manny Trillo, among others. Veterans César Tovar and Víctor Davalillo were with Portuguesa, which lost their semi-final series. Seguí (0-1, 3.72 ERA) pitched 9.2 innings in the semis. Aragua Tigers, headed by SS David Concepción, won the title over the Lara Cardinals, in the finals.

Boston released Seguí late in spring training, 1976, and he signed a one-year contract with the Hawaii Islanders, a San Diego Padres affiliate. Hawaii (77-68) won a tie-breaker game with the second-place Tacoma Twins (76-69), to win the PCL West. Seguí (11-5, 3.18 ERA) was Hawaii’s best hurler, with 10 CG in 17 starts, and one save. He led the hitter-friendly PCL in ERA. Prospect Gene Richards (.331 AVG, .435 OBP) and veterans Bobby Valentine (.304 AVG, .375 OBP) and Rod Gaspar (.294 AVG, .371 OBP) helped Hawaii win the PCL crown over Salt Lake City, PCL East winners. Seguí joined the Caracas Lions for 1976-77.

With Caracas, 1976-77, Seguí was 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA, in 57 innings. He started seven of his 10 games, completing three. Seguí and Luis Peñalver (9-3, 2.81 ERA) were the only Lions with winning records for a 30-35 club. Len Barker (2-2, 4.89 ERA) pitched 53 innings; closer Pablo Torrealba had five saves. Bo Díaz caught most of Seguí’s games and led the team with a .351 AVG. Steve Bowling (11 HR and 43 RBIs) and Tony Armas (nine HR and 39 RBIs) furnished the power for a club hitting 37 HR. Seguí had a no-decision in the semi-finals. Magallanes won the league title, but fell short in the February 1977 Caribbean Series to the Licey Tigers.

Seattle Mariners (1977)

Twenty-three-year-old RHP Paul Hartzell was at the Seattle Kingdome with the California Angels, when the 1977 AL season opened on April 6, in front of 57,762 fans. He recalled Seguí started the first game in the history of the expansion Mariners, a game won by Frank Tanana of the Angels. Seguí, a free agent, was not chosen in the AL Expansion Draft by Seattle or the Toronto Blue Jays. But Lou Gorman, Seattle GM, and Darrell Johnson, the Mariners skipper, were impressed with Seguí’s 1976 PCL season with Hawaii. Thus, Seguí became the “Ancient Mariner,” and the ONLY player in MLB history to have played for the 1969 Seattle Pilots and 1977 Seattle Mariners! Hartzell actually started, at home, versus Seattle, April 16, 1977, when Seguí was the opposing starter. Hartzell pitched effectively into the seventh; Seguí departed after three innings, with the score tied, 3-3. He gave up solo HR to Bobby Bonds and Don Baylor prior to departing. Dick Drago, Seguí’s ex-Boston teammate, relieved Hartzell, and got the hold. Don Kirkwood earned the save in the Angels 6-4 win. John Montague, who relieved Seguí, took the loss. Seguí started seven contests for Seattle in 40 appearances; he was 0-7, with a 5.69 ERA.

Seguí’s best start of 1977 was a seven-inning effort at Fenway Park, on May 5, fanning 10 Red Sox batters, but Ferguson Jenkins pitched a CG, in Boston’s 5-2 win. Segui’s last MLB game was September 24, 1977, at home, versus the Chicago White Sox, in a brief (one-third of an inning) start. He fanned one hitter; gave up three hits; and was charged with three runs. Oscar Gamble was the last major-league hitter he faced; Ray Fosse was behind the plate for the 40-year old Seguí’s last pitch for Seattle. Seguí’s complete 15-year MLB pitching record is at https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/seguidi01.shtml  Two of his top accomplishments were leading the AL in ERA (1970), and the PCL in ERA (1976).

Table I: Diego Seguí—1970 AL & 1976 PCL ERA Titles

PitcherTeamInningsERA
Diego Seguí1970 Oakland1622.56
Jim PalmerBaltimore3052.71
Clyde WrightCalifornia260.22.83
Fritz PetersonNew York260.12.90
Sam McDowellCleveland3052.92
Diego Seguí1976 Hawaii1473.18
Dennis LewallynAlbuquerque1803.55
Mark WileyTacoma2193.70
Gary WheelockSalt Lake City2013.81
Juan VeintidósTacoma1633.81

Caracas Lions (1977-78) and February 4-9, 1978 Caribbean Series

Seguí (5-2, 2.45 ERA) started six of his games for 40-30 Caracas, eventual league champions, under manager Felipe Alou. Their pitching staff was well-balanced with Pablo Torrealba (6-5, 3.16 ERA), Larry Sorensen (5-4, 3.46), Luis Peñalver (6-5, 3.27), Len Barker (3-1, 1.78) and Paul Mirabella (2-2, 3.60), in addition to Seguí. Bo Díaz (.299 AVG, five HR and 48 RBIs) was a splendid catcher. Tony Armas came of age with a .316 AVG, 17 HR and 49 RBIs. Manny Trillo (.313 AVG) played superbly at 2B. Carney Lansford (.298 AVG) hit well in his 23 games. OF Bob Molinaro led the club with 10 SB. Gonzalo Márquez produced with a .288 AVG, five HR and 27 RBIs. Caracas advanced to the 1978 Caribbean Series, after Seguí was 1-0 in the semi-finals with a CG; and, 1-0 in the finals, pitching 17.2 innings in two starts.

The February 4-9, 1978 Caribbean Series was hosted at Teodoro Mariscal Stadium, Mazatlán, Mexico. Caracas tied the Aguilas Cibaeñas of the Dominican Republic for second-place, at 3-3, two games behind the 5-1 Mayagüez Indios from Puerto Rico; and two games ahead of Mexico’s Culiacán Tomato Growers, at 1-5. Seguí won both starts, besting Culiacán, 7-3, on February 4; then, Mayagüez, 7-2, on February 9. In 12 total innings, he allowed seven hits and three earned runs, for a 2.25 ERA. Most impressive was his series-leading 16 strikeouts to two walks. Rene Lachemann, Mayagüez’s skipper, knew Seguí from their days with the Kansas City A’s. “Seguí was outstanding in the [1978] Caribbean Series,” said Lachemann. “We lost Game Six to a real pro, a tremendous competitor…my ex-[Kansas City] teammate.” When voters selected the Series All-Star Team, Mayagüez’s Danny Darwin, was the RHP; Mirabella was the LHP. Tony Armas (CF) and Leon Roberts (LF) were named to this team. Seven other position players were from champion Mayagüez: Rick Sweet, catcher; Raúl “Boogie” Colón, 1B; Ramón Avilés, 2B; Kurt Bevacqua, 3B; Edgardo Romero, SS; Jesús “Bombo” Rivera, RF; and José Manuel Morales, DH.

Table II: Strikeouts per nine IP, one Caribbean Series, minimum nine IP^

PitcherTeam and SeriesIPKK/ 9 IP
Diego SeguíCaracas (1973)9.21715.82
Terín PizarroCaguas (1958)16.22915.66
Odell JonesLicey (1977)121813.50
Francisco CamposMazatlán (2005)162312.94
Joe HattenAlmendares (1954)11.21612.34
Giancarlo AlvaradoPonce (2009)11.21612.34
Diego SeguíCaracas (1978)121612
José AcevedoAguilas Cibaeñas (2003)11.11511.91
Wilson AlvarezZulia (1992)151911.40
Pete WojeyMayagüez (1957)121511.25
Aurelio MonteagudoMagallanes (1970)13.21711.19
Earl StephensonAragua (1972)10.21210.97
Héctor MercadoBayamón (2002)101110.80
Humberto RobinsonCarta Vieja (1955)10.11110.45

^ José Rijo had some Caribbean Series with many K, but less than nine IP.

Mexico’s Cordoba Cafeteros (1978 and 1979)

A new chapter began for Seguí when he agreed to play in Mexico, a common development for veteran Caribbean players. He pitched for the Cordoba Cafeteros (Coffee Growers), Class AAA Mexican League, Southeast Division. Winston Llenas from the Dominican Republic was Cordoba’s player-manager. “We developed a special bond,” affirmed Seguí. “If Winston was in a hitting slump, we would get to the ballpark early; I pitched to him, and he would gradually hit them to all fields, left-center-right, to get his rhythm back.” The 95-50 Cafeteros easily won their Division by 25.5 games over the 70-76 Mexico City Red Devils; 31 games in front of Poza Rica (67-84); and 37.5 games ahead of Tabasco (60-90). Benjamín “Cananea” Reyes managed Mexico City and Luis “Tite” Arroyo was the first of three skippers managing Poza Rica. (Reyes managed Mexico to their first Caribbean Series crown in 1976; Arroyo was a member of the 1959 Havana Sugar Kings, winners of the Little World Series.)

Seguí pitched a seven-inning perfect game on June 21, 1978, versus Nuevo Laredo Tecolotes. “That was the third perfect game in Mexican League history,” noted Seguí. “I later threw a one-hitter against the Mexico City Tigers.” When asked if Héctor Valle or Eliseo Rodríguez caught his June 21, 1978 perfect game, Seguí stated: “No, it was a native catcher.” Valle and (Eliseo) Rodríguez were on Cordoba’s 1978 roster, and the first two catchers from Puerto Rico, to play in the majors. Valle was the first—1965 Los Angeles Dodgers; then, Eliseo, 1968 New York Yankees. Seguí was 18-6 with a 2.32 ERA for Cordoba, with 28 starts, 21 CG and a league-leading eight SHO. His eight SHO are only surpassed by seven others, with nine or 10 SHO, one season, Mexican League. Terín Pizarro, for example, had nine SHO for Cordoba in 1974. George Brunet recorded eight SHO in 1975 and 1980; Gilberto Rondón had eight in 1980.

In 1979, Seguí went 15-8 for Cordoba, who won the Southeast Division by 2.5 games over Tabasco. The 76-56 Cafeteros, managed by Llenas, bested Aguascalientes in the first round of the 1979 playoffs, four games-to-three, after losing to them, four games-to-two, in the 1978 semi-finals. Cordoba then lost to Puebla, four games-to-one, in the 1979 semi-finals. Seguí’s post-season records in Mexico were not available to the author.

Caracas Lions (1978-79 and 1979-80)

Seguí’s last two winters with Caracas, 1978-79 and 1979-80, followed summers with Cordoba. In 1978-79, he went 5-6, 3.78 ERA, in 78.2 innings; fanned 58 and walked 22. Caracas went 31-39 in using 16 hurlers. Bo Díaz continued catching Seguí. A talented 17-year old, Andrés Galarraga, made his debut for Caracas, with five hits in 11 AB. Thirty-eight-year-old Gonzalo Márquez was still reliable. (.313 AVG), as was Manny Trillo (.294 AVG). Tony Armas’s five HR and 33 RBIs were below average for him. The 1978-79 Magallanes Navigators, under player-manager Willie Horton, won the league title, and 1979 Caribbean Series in Puerto Rico.

But 1979-80 was different. The Caracas Lions roared back to win 46 of 69 regular season games. Seguí (7-3, 3.71 ERA) hurled 68 innings in 11 starts and two relief efforts. He did not pitch as

well in the semi-finals or finals, won by Caracas. Still, his seven regular season wins led the team, followed by Ubaldo Heredia (6-2), Mike Stanton (6-3), Rick Williams (5-0), John Hobbs and Luis Peñalver (both 4-1), and Pablo Torrealba (4-4). Bo Díaz clubbed 20 HR—one-third of the team’s 60 HR—and drove in 57, with a .308 AVG and .623 SLG. Dwayne Murphy hit 12 HR in 137 AB, with a .328 AVG and .628 SLG. Speedster Eddie Miller stole 39 bases in 59 games. Caracas, under skipper Felipe Alou, bested the Lara Cardinals, managed by Vern Benson, in the finals, four games-to-one.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (DR) hosted the February 2-7, 1980 Caribbean Series, with the Licey Tigers (4-2) winning it over Caracas (3-3), Bayamón Cowboys (3-3) and Hermosillo Orange Growers (2-4). Seguí won his February 5 start over Bayamón, 5-3.”I pitched well against Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series,” said Seguí. He pitched seven innings; allowed 11 hits; fanned two; walked one. Eliseo Rodríguez caught for Bayamón; Art Howe was their skipper. In three Caribbean Series, Seguí was 4-0, with a 1.88 ERA, 35 strikeouts and five walks, in 28.2 innings. He allowed 25 hits, with a 1.046 WHIP.

Table III: Four+ Wins, Caribbean Series, Phases I and II^

PitcherCountryW-L
Camilo PascualCuba6-0
Rubén GómezPuerto Rico (PR)6-2
José “Carrao” BrachoVenezuela (VZA)6-4
Pedro BorbónDR5-0
Odell JonesDR, PR and VZA5-1
Orlando PeñaCuba and VZA5-1
Julián TavarezDR5-2
Vicente RomoMexico5-3
Eduardo AcostaMexico and DR4-0
Diego SeguíVZA4-0
Raúl ValdésDR4-0
Julio ValeraPR4-0
Luis “Mambo” de LeónPR4-2
Urbano LugoVZA4-2
Terín PizarroPR4-2
José “Pantalones” SantiagoPR4-3
Humberto RobinsonPanamá4-4

^ Phase I was 1949-1960; Phase II is 1970-to-present.

With deep appreciation to Diego Seguí, for his time and goodwill, June 14 and 24, 2020. Thanks to Eduardo Almada (Seguí in Mexico), Monte Cely, Jorge Colón Delgado, Miguel Dupouy Gómez (Seguí in Venezuela), Carlos González-Mariche, Paul Hartzell, Juan Antonio Jasso Rodríguez, Rene Lachemann, Bob Montgomery, Tony Piña Campora (Seguí’s Caribbean Series stats), Germán J. Rivas, and Luis Tiant.

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