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

Part II ended with Amorós’s 1954-58 Cuban Winter League summary. Part III continues with 1958-59 Montreal; 1959 and 1960 Los Angeles Dodgers, 1960 Detroit Tigers; 1958-1961 seasons with Almendares; 1961 Denver Bears and 1962 Mexico City Reds; plus post-baseball life in Cuba, the Bronx, and Florida.

Montreal and Los Angeles (briefly), 1958-1959

Charlie Neal’s emergence as the 1958 Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman, plus Junior Gilliam’s ability to play left field, spelled “doom” for Amorós. Gino Cimoli was the Dodgers’ fourth outfielder behind Gilliam—who played half of the team’s 154 games in left field—Duke Snider and Carl Furillo. Los Angeles finished seventh in 1958 (71-83). The Dodgers (86-68) rebounded in 1959 to win the NL pennant and 1959 World Series (WS). Amorós had five pinch-hit regular season at-bats for Los Angeles. Gilliam moved to third in 1959, allowing Wally Moon to be the regular left fielder. Snider mostly played right, since Don Demeter played center. Maury Wills took over shortstop duties from Don Zimmer in mid-season. Neal showed pop, with 19 homers after clubbing 22 in 1958. Alston used nine starters in 1959—ace Don Drysdale (17-13), Johnny Podres (14-9), Roger Craig (11-5), Sandy Koufax (8-6), Danny McDevitt (10-8), Stan Williams (5-5), and Larry Sherry (7-2). Carl Erskine and Gene Snyder started five games between them. Sherry replaced Clem Labine as the team’s de facto closer for the Fall Classic.

 Amorós played left for the 1958 and 1959 Montreal Royals, managed by Clay Bryant. The 1958 Royals (90-63) won the eight-team International League pennant and semi-finals over Columbus, four games to three, and the finals versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, four games to one. Amorós’s slash line was .260/.379/.442, with a .821 OPS. His 86 walks were tops on the team. Sparky Anderson, 1968-69 San Juan Senators skipper in the PRWL, played second for Montreal. Anderson also played for 1956-57 Escogido in the LIDOM. Eighteen-game winner Tommy Lasorda was Montreal’s ace and the league’s Pitcher of the Year. “I was Sandy’s teammate with 1958 and 1959 Montreal, and [1958-59] Almendares in Cuba,” said Lasorda. “He came to play and did the little things to help us win with Montreal and Almendares.”

The 1959 Royals (72-82) finished sixth but Amorós led them with a .301 BA; was second with 26 homers to teammate Bob Lennon’s 28; and, drove in 79, second to Clyde Parris. Preston Gómez’s Havana Sugar Kings emerged triumphant in the league playoffs. Cal Ermer, manager of second-place Columbus Jets, the Pittsburgh Pirates top Triple-A team, later managed Ponce, Mayagüez, and San Juan in the PRWL. Joe Gibbon led the 1959 International League with 152 strikeouts with Columbus. He was standing on third in a semi-final game versus Havana at Gran Stadium.  Ermer’s wife, in the stands, overheard Cuban soldiers saying: “If he [Gibbon] scores, I’m going to shoot him.” Gibbon later told the author: “I’m glad I didn’t know about this.” https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/joe-gibbon/

Tables I and II include some hitting and pitching stats for the 1958 Montreal Royals. Center fielder Solly Drake, Amorós’s 1958 Montreal teammate, starred for the 1956-59 Marianao Tigers in Cuba. Montreal right-fielder Bob Lennon played for the 1958-59 Santurce Crabbers versus Almendares in the 1959 CS.

Table I: Montreal Royals 1958 Hitting Stats for Selected Players

Sandy Amorós281394467211629216628659.260.379.442.821
Sparky Anderson24155580781563552564750.269.330.357.687
Solly Drake2715560710518335169686882.302.375.456.832
Jim Koranda241465108113727720785683.269.341.467.808
Bob Lennon291444708113523625875665.287.365.521.887
Clyde Parris351535507216532610935178.300.357.435.792
Total (AVG age)27.61554984684130325958104629528725.261.334.399.733

Source: Baseball-Reference.

Table II: Montreal Royals 1958 Pitching Stats for Selected Hurlers

Babe Birrer2812-5252011416014677432.361.181
Bob Giallombardo2112-9232112514811189602.741.155
Bill Harris2714-10372794195171108713.091.241
Tommy Lasorda3018-63431165230191126762.501.161
Charlie Rabe266-820177211511255353.371.278
René Valdés2915-144528100210209112634.031.295
Total (AVG age)27.690-63155155        

#Complete pitching stats were only available for some pitchers. Source: Baseball-Reference.     

Almendares Scorpions—1958-59 Cuban Winter League Champions

Ed Bauta, a native of Florida, Cuba, made his Cuban Winter League debut for the 1958-59 Marianao Tigers, one game and two scoreless innings. His Tigers teammates included Minnie Miñoso, Solly Drake, José Tartabull, and Zoilo Versalles. A decade earlier, he avidly followed his beloved Almendares Scorpions via radio, since it took 10 hours to drive from Florida (Cuba) to Havana. “I was an Almendarista rabioso (rabid Almendares fan),” noted Bauta. “Roberto Ortiz, from the Senado area of our Camagüey Province, was my favorite Scorpion. I admired player-manager Fermín Guerra and followed the exploits of Monte Irvin, their star outfielder.” Bauta, by then, had dropped out of school to be a farm laborer, cutting sugar cane, and handling oxen.

In 1958-59, Almendares (46-26) outdistanced 38-34 Marianao by eight games, Cienfuegos (31-41), and Havana (29-43) to represent Cuba in the four-team 1959 CS. The Scorpions placed six players on the regular season League All-Star Team: catcher Dick Brown, second baseman Tony Taylor, shortstop Willie Miranda, outfielders Angel Scull and Willie Tasby, and hurler Orlando Peña. Table III has the position players’ hitting stats. Peña (15-5), Art Fowler (8-6), and Lasorda (8-3) comprised a solid Almendares pitching trio, per Table IV.

Table III: Almendares Scorpions 1958-59 Hitting Stats (non-pitchers)

Bob Allison1982242643167.212.328
Sandy Amorós21526534612014.247.335
Jim Baxes2752055909320.200.331
Dick Brown27626641308300.232.366
Miguel de la Hoz392900170.231.308
Willie Miranda2231655721150.247.309
Rocky Nelson25337621025223.245.360
Carlos Paula1952452418290.267.421
Leo Posada3761021250.270.541
Angel Scull28836709511518.243.319
Tony Taylor29036881054337.303.414
Others (6)480600020.125.125

Source: Jorge S. Figueredo, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2003.

Table IV: Almendares 1958-59 Pitching Stats

Orlando Peña261515-517713396391.580.972
Art Fowler24109-6155.212882371.911.060
Tom Lasorda1758-392.27231481.891.295
Miguel Cuéllar1745-795.19947373.791.427
John Romonosky2225-371.26136352.631.339
Fern. Rodríguez1002-141.12332151.090.919
Gonzalo Naranjo1901-039.12926163.051.144
Others (3)801-117.22013133.061.868

Source: Jorge S. Figueredo.

Scorpions Win the 1959 CS

Almendares (5-1 W-L) topped Oriente (4-2) from Venezuela, Santurce (3-3), and Azucareros from Panamá (0-6), in Caracas. Amorós (.333 BA) was one of four Scorpions regulars who surpassed .300 BA, including second-sacker Taylor (.346), first baseman Nelson (.320), and shortstop Miranda (.316). Camilo Pascual (2-0), Peña (1-1), Fowler (1-0), and Cuéllar (1-0) were a combined 5-1. Lasorda pitched 3.1 innings in one relief outing. Santurce’s Jackie Brandt was voted center fielder on the CS All-Star Team. “Cuba was the best team,” recalled Brandt. “It was nice to chat with Sandy [Amorós], my former [1955-56] Havana teammate.” Oriente’s Norm Cash was CS MVP. The author’s 2024 CS book will cover the 1949-2024 CS history.

Amorós, 1960 Los Angeles Dodgers to 1962 Mexico City Red Devils

Los Angeles traded Amorós to Detroit, on May 7, 1960, for first baseman Gail Harris, who hit 20 homers for the 1958 Tigers and played for the 1955-57 New York Giants. (Harris’s path was blocked due to the emergence of Orlando Cepeda in 1958 and Willie McCovey in 1959.) Amorós finished his major-league career with Detroit. He posted a .400 OBP for the 1961 Denver Bears, Detroit’s Triple-A American Association affiliate. Bears’ hurlers Bob Bruce, Bob Dustal, and Gordon Seyfried pitched for Mayagüez in the PRWL, due to Detroit’s working agreement with them. Charlie Metro, Bears’ skipper, managed the 1965-66 San Juan Senators. Detroit sold Amorós to Mexico City on March 18, 1962. His Diablos Rojos (Red Devils) slash line was .305/.412/.484 slash line with a .896 OPS per Table V.

Table V: Sandy Amorós Hitting Statistics, DR, Minors, Majors, World Series (WS), Mexico

NYC-1950         .338   

-New York Cubans; #Estrellas Orientales; &St. Paul Saints; ^Montreal Royals; >Denver Bears; <Mexico

City Red Devils; *Brooklyn Dodgers; +Los Angeles Dodgers; ~Detroit Tigers. !1955 and 1956 World Series.

Sources: Winterball data and Baseball-Reference.

Two More Winters in Cuba, 1959-1961

Cuba’s Winter League was dissolved after 1960-61 when the country’s emphasis transitioned to a National Series. Amorós played first and the outfield in 1959-60, and primarily first base in 1960-61. Stateside imports were disallowed in 1960-61, and player salaries were cut to “help the Revolution.” Almendares (25-47), last in 1959-60, improved to 34-32, second-place, in 1960-61, one game behind 35-31 Cienfuegos. Table VI has Amoros’s Winter League and CS hitting stats.

Table VI: Sandy Amorós, Cuban Winter League, 1950-1961, and Four CS

Totals11 years230535964894324931259.281.413
HAV1951 CS153501050.333.467
HAV1952 CS206940060.450.650
HAV1953 CS244601051.250.429
ALM1959 CS214701030.333.429
TotalsCS (4)801727430191.338.463

ALM: Almendares. HAV: Havana; CS: Caribbean Series. Source: Jorge S. Figueredo.

End of the Line

Fidel Castro confiscated Amorós’s ranch, auto, all assets, and cash, per Rory Costello’s SABR bio. Tension emerged between Amorós and Castro when the latter asked him to manage a new (1962) summer league team. “I told Castro I didn’t know how to manage,” said Amorós. “I could play, why would I want to manage?” https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/sandy-amoros Amorós left Cuba for the States in 1967.  Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi found out he lacked one week for his big-league pension; owner Walter O’Malley approved Amorós spending a week with Los Angeles, delivering the line-up card, among other tasks.

Amorós then lived in the Bronx for 10 years, until 1977, not too far from Yankee Stadium. He befriended Bronx Congressman Herman Badillo, who served in Congress, from 1971-1977. Amorós spent most of his remaining years in Tampa before moving to Miami, Florida. He suffered from diabetes and had one leg removed. His $495 monthly big-league pension was supplemented by $400 monthly thanks to the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT). Amorós passed away in Miami on June 27, 1992, at age 62.

Thanks to Al Campanis, Ed Bauta, Jackie Brandt, Rory Costello, Jorge S. Figueredo, Joe Gibbon, Tommy Lasorda, Tony Taylor, and Stew Thornley. Jorge Colón Delgado did the editing and photo placements.

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