Edmundo (Sandy) Amorós’s Stellar Professional Baseball Career (Part I)

On October 4, 1955, in the home sixth inning of Game Seven of the World Series (WS), Brooklyn took a 2-0 lead over the Yankees on Gil Hodges’s sacrifice fly scoring Pee Wee Reese. Brooklyn skipper Walter Alston, later that inning, summoned George Shuba to pinch-hit for second baseman Don Zimmer with two outs and the bases loaded. Shuba grounded out, Bill Skowron to Bob Grim (3-1). Alston moved left-fielder Junior Gilliam to second base, replacing Zimmer, and brought in Sandy Amorós, who batted and threw left-handed, to play left. It paid dividends after Johnny Podres walked Billy Martin and Gil McDougald bunted for a hit down the third-base line toward Don Hoak. Yogi Berra lined a shot down the left-field line. Amorós raced over from left-center to catch the liner (photo above); and promptly threw a bullet to Reese, who relayed it to Hodges, doubling McDougald off first. It catapulted Brooklyn to their first WS crown.

Part I focuses on Amorós’s baseball career pre-1955 National League (NL) season and Fall Classic, e.g., February 25-March 12, 1950 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Guatemala City; 1951 summer with Estrellas Orientales (EO) in the Dominican Republic (DR); first four Cuban Winter League seasons with the Havana Lions, aka Reds, 1950-51 to 1953-54; minor-league seasons with St. Paul (1952) and Montreal (1953-1954); and, his first three Caribbean Series (CS) representing Cuba, 1951-53. Parts II and III will cover his final seven Winter League seasons with Havana and Almendares Scorpions, a.k.a. Blues; 1959 CS in Venezuela; 1955-1957 Brooklyn Dodgers seasons; 1959-1960 Los Angeles Dodgers plus 1960 Detroit Tigers; and, minor league seasons with Montreal (1958-1959), Denver (1961), and 1962 Mexico City Reds. Part II includes Brooklyn’s decision not to protect Roberto Clemente—Amorós’s 1954 Montreal teammate—from the November 22, 1954 Rule 5 Draft.

The Sixth Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, from February 25 through March 12, 1950, took place in Guatemala City. Cuba won all seven of its games in the eight-team baseball tournament — led by 20-year-old Amorós, 10-for-27, a .370 BA with six homers and 14 RBIs. Per Rory Costello’s SABR bio, Amorós was one of two Blacks (Afro-Cubans) https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/sandy-amoros/ on this team. He was born in Matanzas, Cuba on January 30, 1930. Table I summarizes the Medal Count.

Table I: Medal Count for Guatemala’s 1950 CAC Games

Puerto Rico1271029
Netherlands Antilles310114
El Salvador2439
Trinidad and Tobago1416


Al Campanis is Impressed by Amorós and Roberto Clemente

Amorós’s posted a .338 BA for the 1950 New York Cubans in the Negro Leagues. He impressed Al Campanis, Brooklyn’s super scout, with outstanding hitting during the DR’s 1951 professional summer season, and fine play. The DR’s 14-year hiatus from professional baseball was due to financial losses sustained in the 1937 Summer Tournament between Ciudad Trujillo, Águilas Cibaeñas (AC), and EO due to exorbitant salaries paid to imports from the Negro Leagues, including Satchel Paige, Joshua Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, and Martín Dihigo, and others. Its Winter League began in 1955-56 and is known as the LIDOM. “The Dodgers gave a lot of importance to the Caribbean,” recalled Campanis. “We did our spring training in Havana, Cuba, in 1947, and played an exhibition game in San Juan against a Puerto Rico All-Star Team before the 1948 NL season. I scouted and signed Amorós and helped Brooklyn coordinate a working agreement with the Cienfuegos ballclub. I set up a 1952 San Juan tryout (Sixto Escobar Stadium) where we were impressed with Roberto Clemente, who we later signed for Brooklyn.”

Amorós’s 1951 EO skippers were player-manager Tetelo Vargas and Manuel García for a fourth-place (24-29) team. First-place Licey (32-24) bested Escogido in the finals, four games to one. Amorós benefitted from playing with 45-year-old Tetelo, a legendary outfielder in the Negro Leagues, Puerto Rico Winter League (PRWL), and elsewhere. Shortstop Cocó Ferrer was another talented EO teammate. Licey featured Alonzo “His Majesty” Perry, an import from Birmingham, Alabama. Manolo Cáceres, good-hitting pitcher, was 7-2 for Licey, whose primary skipper was Félix “Fellé” Delgado (18-13). Delgado once patrolled the outfield for the PRWL San Juan Senators and in the Negro Leagues. He was Charles O. Finley’s 1960s Caribbean Area scout for the Kansas City A’s, scouting and signing Bert Campaneris, José “Palillo” Santiago, Diego Seguí, and José Tartabull, among others. AC had catcher Luis “King Kong” Villodas, league batting champion, with necessary plate appearances, and Cuban outfielder Pedro Formental, a Havana winter teammate of Amorós. Escogido was managed by José St. Claire, aka Pepe Lucas, who secured his 1950-51 Santurce Crabbers teammate Willard Brown to reinforce Escogido. Villodas, Puerto Rico’s first big-league catcher, based on playing for the 1946 and 1947 Baltimore Elite Giants, played many years in the PRWL. “I had my best season ever with AC,” said Villodas. “The fans in Santiago loved me.” Table II has the batting stats of some players from the 1951 DR season. Perry, Amorós, and Cáceres did not qualify for the batting crown.

Table II: 1951 DR Summer Season Hitting Statistics for Selected League Players

Alonzo Perry2590273641103210.400.518.8001.318
Sandy Amorós21792031921198.392.505.5951.100
Manolo Cáceres37931435910130.376.468.495.963
Luis Villodas#471561954616252.346.410.513.923
Tetelo Vargas5119539641310329.328.415.405.820
Pedro Formental3210834352013348.324.486.7041.190
Pepe Lucas511953054846388.277.347.451.798
Willard Brown25911123625172.253.358.527.885

#Batting champion. Tony Peña, .317 BA for AC (1979-80), was the second LIDOM catcher to win a

batting crown. Source: Winterball Data.

Amorós Impresses Cuba’s Rabid Fans in 1950-52

Sandy Amorós in Cuba (Photo Andy Lans archives)

Havana (41-32) edged arch-rival Almendares (40-33) for the 1950-51 league title. Amorós played sporadically in the regular season but was penciled in by Mike González as a regular for the 1951 CS in Caracas. Havana (4-2 W-L) came in second to Santurce (5-1 record). Luis R. Olmo—Brooklyn Dodgers’ and NL’s first Puerto Rican player in 1943—was the 1951 CS MVP. (Pitcher Adolfo Luque was Brooklyn’s first Cuban and Latin American player in 1930.) By 1951-52, Amorós was a League All-Star, with a .333 BA and .497 SLG. Brooklyn set up a working agreement with 1951-52 Cienfuegos Elephants, whose manager was Brooklyn coach Billy Herman. Al Campanis checked on Joe Black (15-6, 2.42 ERA) and John Rutherford (7-6, 3.85 ERA) with Cienfuegos; along with second baseman Jack Cassini (St. Paul) and shortstop Don Zimmer (Elmira). Campanis was impressed by and signed Amorós. (This was done before 1953-57 bonus baby provisions were in place.) Amorós was one of five Havana players on the Cuban League’s All-Star Team and was selected for the February 1952 CS All-Star Team, in Panamá, per Table III. Havana (5-0-1) won it over Carta Vieja (Panamá), Cervecería Caracas (Venezuela), and San Juan Senators (PR). Havana’s Tommy Fine pitched the only no-hitter in CS history on February 21, 1952, fanning four and walking three. Amorós’s .450 BA led this CS. Table III has Amorós on the 1951-52 Cuban Winter League All-Star Team and 1952 CS Select Squad.

Table III: Cuba’s 1951-52 All-Star Team and 1952 CS All-Stars in Panamá

Rafael NobleCCienfuegosAndrés FleitasCHavana
Bert Haas1BHavanaEddie Neville1BCarta Vieja
Johnny Jorgensen2BHavanaSpook Jacobs2BCarta Vieja
Héctor Rodríguez3BAlmendaresBuddy Hicks3BCervecería
Damon PhillipsSSMarianaoLou KleinSSHavana
Sandy AmorósOFHavanaSandy AmorósLFHavana
Frank CarswellOFAlmendaresHéctor BenítezCFCervecería
Pedro FormentalOFHavanaWilmer FieldsRFCervecería
Bill AyersPHavanaTommy FinePHavana
Joe BlackPCienfuegos   
Pat McGlothinPCienfuegos   

Sources: Jorge S. Figueredo, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961,

McFarland, Jefferson, North Carolina, 2003; CS sources.


Magnificent 1952-53 and 1953-54 Seasons

Amorós’s league-leading .373 BA for 1952-53 was the loop’s highest—100+ at-bats—since Alejandro Oms’s .380 BA with 1929-30 Santa Clara Leopards, who also had Satchel Paige. Havana’s 1952-53 juggernaut (43-29) qualified for their third straight CS. Third baseman Lou Klein hit 16 homers, an all-time league record, and outfielder Pedro Formental drove in 57, a single-season mark. Amorós joined teammates Formental, Klein, catcher Dick Rand, shortstop Damon Phillips and hurler Bob Alexander on the 1952-53 Cuban Winter League All-Star Team. The 1953 CS was won by undefeated Santurce Crabbers (6-0), led by player-manager Buster Clarkson, Willard Brown, and others, who outdistanced Havana (3-3), Chesterfield Smokers (2-4), and the Caracas Lions (1-5). Amorós drove in five. Pedro Formental, 14-for-25, hit .560, with eight RBIs. In the 1953-54 regular season, Amorós’s .322 BA was third behind Almendares stars Rocky Nelson (.352) and Earl Rapp (.340). Al Campanis managed Cienfuegos (36-36) to second place behind Almendares (44-28). Table IV reflects Amorós’s regular season hitting stats in Cuba (1950-54) and 1951-53 CS batting figures.

Table IV: Sandy Amorós Hitting Statistics, Cuban Winter League and CS, 1950-54

HAV1951 CS153501050.333.467
HAV1952 CS206940060.450.650
HAV1953 CS244601051.250.429

HAV: Havana; CS: Caribbean Series. Source: Jorge S. Figueredo, Cuban Baseball:

A Statistical History, 1878-1961, McFarland, 2003.

St. Paul, Montreal and Brooklyn, 1952-54

Brooklyn had 17 minor-league teams in 1952, most in baseball. Amorós got his nickname circa 1952 from his similar appearance to boxer Sandy Saddler (145-16-2), two-time World Featherweight Champion. He pulverized Class-AAA pitching with 1952 St. Paul (.337 BA); won a 1953 International League batting title with Montreal (.353); and posted a .352 BA for the 1954 Royals. He made his Brooklyn debut on August 22, 1952. Walter Alston, Amorós 1953 Montreal skipper, managed him with Brooklyn in 1954 and beyond. Alston’s three 1953 League All-Stars with Montreal were Amorós, first baseman Rocky Nelson, and catcher Tim Thompson. Amoros’s OBP was outstanding with St. Paul and Montreal and solid with 1954 Brooklyn per Table V.

Table V: Sandy Amorós Hitting Statistics, Minors and Majors, 1952-54


&St. Paul Saints; ^Montreal Royals. *Brooklyn Dodgers. Source: Baseball-Reference.

Jack Cassini Remembers Amorós and Roberto Clemente with 1954 Montreal

Jack Cassini participated in eight games, namely as a pinch-runner, with the 1949 Pittsburgh Pirates with no at-bats. The minor-league journeyman played against Amorós—whom he lauded for baseball smarts and hustle—in Cuba and Roberto Clemente, 1953-54 PRWL when Cassini’s San Juan Senators played Clemente’s Santurce Crabbers. Cassini reinforced the Caguas Criollos in the February 1954 CS, hosted by San Juan. He opined—to the author—that Clemente should have gotten more playing time with Montreal. “In the seventh or eighth innings, he would replace me for defensive purposes,” recalled Cassini. “But I had played against him in the PRWL and knew what he could do. Later on, he autographed a bat for my youngest daughter at the 1971 (AL-NL) All-Star Game in Detroit. What a nice guy.” Stew Thornley, who wrote Clemente’s SABR bio, interviewed Cassini on June 20, 2005. Cassini noted: “You knew he was going to play in the big leagues. He had a great arm and could run.” Thornley noted that 1954 Montreal skipper Max Macon denied he was under any orders to restrict Clemente’s playing time. “The only orders I had were to win and draw big crowds,” Macon said. Table VI lists Montreal’s 1954 roster.

Table VI: 1954 Montreal Royals (88-66) Roster

Bill AbernathiePR-R5-10, 19025
Sandy Amorós*OFL-L5-7, 17024
Joe Black*PR-R6-2, 22030
Joe CarbonaroPR-R5-10, 17230
Jack Cassini*!OF-2BR-R5-10, 17534
Gino Cimoli*!OFR-R6-1, 18024
Roberto Clemente!OFR-R5-11, 17519
Hampton Coleman*PR-R6-2, 17526
Glenn CoxPR-R6-2, 21023
Ray Dabek^CR-R5-10, 18527
Arthur FabbroPR-R6-0, 18527
Chico Fernández*SSR-R6-0, 16522
Walter Fiala*3B-2BR-R5-9, 17029
Bert HamricOFL-R6-0, 16526
Bill Harris^PL-R5-8, 18723
Roy Hartsfield!2BR-R5-9, 16528
Wally HoodPR-R6-1, 19028
Dixie Howell*!CR-R5-11, 19034
Norm Larker*!1BL-L6-0, 18523
Tom Lasorda*!PL-L5-10, 17526
Ronnie LeePR-L6-0, 19025
Ken Lehman*PL-L6-0, 17026
Robert LudwigPR-L6-0, 16026
Max Macon*MGRL-L6-3, 17538
Frank Marchio3BR-R5-11, 18026
Clyde McNealIFR-R6-0, 17725
Glenn Mickens*PR-R6-0, 17523
Rocky Nelson*1BL-L5-10, 17529
Ronald Owen^PL-L6-3, 19521
Ed Roebuck*!PR-R6-2, 18522
Johnny Rutherford*PL-R5-10, 17029
Chuck TempletonPR-L6-3, 21022
Don Thompson*OFL-L6-0, 18530
Tim Thompson!CL-R5-11, 19030
Frank WhitePR-R6-3, 19023
Dick WhitmanOFL-R5-11, 17033
Bob Wilson*^3BR-R5-11, 19729
Ken WoodOFR-R6-0, 20029
Dick Young3BL-R5-11, 17526

*Played in Cuba. ^Played in Panamá Winter League. !Played in PRWL. ^Played in LVBP. Sources:

Baseball-Reference; Jorge S. Figueredo, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961, McFarland, 2003.

Thanks to Al Campanis, Jack Cassini, Rory Costello, Fellé Delgado, Stew Thornley, and Luis “King Kong” Villodas. Jorge Colón Delgado did the editing and photo placements.

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