Gold Gloves—Part IV: MLB 2B in Puerto Rico Winter Ball (Harold Reynolds)

Seven MLB 2B who played in Puerto Rico have 21 Rawlings Gold Gloves (GG) between them: 16 American League (AL) and five National League (NL). This covers 1957-to-2018. In 1957, GG were awarded to nine total MLB players by position. From 1958-on, separate AL-NL recipients received this award. Nellie Fox—1957 Chicago White Sox—won the first GG at 2B. This is Part IV in a series on Gold Gloves (GG) earned by MLB players who played winter ball in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League.

The most GG won by a 2B is 10 by Roberto Alomar, all in the AL with Toronto-Baltimore-Cleveland, followed by Ryne Sandberg (nine), Bill Mazeroski (eight), Frank White (eight), Joe Morgan and Bobby Richardson with five apiece. Charlie Neal was the first GG recipient who played professionally in Puerto Rico, for the Caguas Criollos. This blog focuses on Harold Reynolds, the 2B who played in Puerto Rico with the 1985-86 Mayagüez Indios, prior to earning three AL GG, 1988-to-1990.

Harold Reynolds had a wonderful minor league career, pre-Mayagüez, beginning with the Wausau Timbers, class A Midwest League in 1981. His slash line was .296/.368/.422/.789, with 69 SB and 20 caught stealing (CS). One talented league player was OF Henry Cotto of the Quad Cities Cubs, who was one of the last players signed by the legendary Pedrín Zorrilla, the same Pedrín who facilitated the signing of Roberto Clemente for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Orlando Cepeda for the New York Giants. Reynolds and Cotto were both selected to the Midwest League All-Star team. Reynolds progressed to Lynn, class AA Eastern League (1982) and stole 39 bases in 102 games. John Lackey and (Glens Falls White Sox) and Oil Can Boyd (Bristol Red Sox) were two of the best Eastern League pitchers Reynolds faced. His 1983 season with class AAA Salt Lake City featured 54 SB and a .309 BA, earning a promotion to the Seattle Mariners—20 games, .203/.226/.305/.531 slash line.

Reynolds was an import with league champion Mayagüez. Nick Leyva, first base coach for the 1985 NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals, managed Reynolds at Mayagüez, 31-22 in the regular season, 1.5 games behind 33-21 Caguas. Mayagüez then won 12 of 18 games in the four-team round robin series, to qualify for the league finals versus the San Juan Metros, who were second in the round robin. Mayagüez bested San Juan, four games to two, in the league finals.

The 1985-86 Mayagüez Indios were a powerhouse with Paul O’Neill, John Cangelosi and Bobby Bonilla in the OF and Wally Joyner—League MVP/Triple Crown winner (.356, 14, 48) at 1B. Randy Ready played 3B and Willie Lozado or Wade Rowdon handled SS. Super-sub Luis Raúl Quiñones played IF/OF, DH or pinch-hit. Bombo Rivera was a fourth OF. Dave Sax/Angel Rodríguez caught a pitching staff anchored by Tim Belcher, Pat Zachry and native hurlers’ Juan Agosto, Luis Aquino, Luis de León, José “Chevel” Guzmán and Jesús Hernaiz. Harold Reynolds played in 52 regular season games, a .245/.333/.333/.667 slash line. His 47 hits included 11 doubles/three triples.  He scored 29; drove in 16; drew 30 walks; stole 10 bases.

Reynolds played nine of 18 round robin games, going nine for 28 (.321) with a HR and four RBIs, before returning to the States. Paul O’Neill hit well (.333) in the round robin. Ready played all 18 games, driving in 17 runs, and continued his torrid hitting in the February 1986 Caribbean Series—14 hits/30 AB, .467 BA, seven RBIs. Al Newman replaced Reynolds at 2B in this six-game Caribbean Series. Caguas OF Henry Cotto replaced Paul O’Neill, while José Oquendo replaced Lozado at SS, a common practice in Caribbean Series events. Mexico’s Aguilas de Mexicali (4-2) won this event, followed by the Aguilas Cibaeñas of the Dominican Republic and host Venezuela’s Tiburones de La Guaira, both 3-3. Mayagüez was last at 2-4.

During his free time with Mayagüez, Reynolds enjoyed a fishing trip to El Combate, near the beautiful Boquerón beach off Puerto Rico’s southwest coast. Reynolds, Bonilla, Rowdon and Joyner took turns diving from the vessel; swam and drank soda pop. Pat Zachry recalled going to the mall [Plaza Las Américas] when the Indios played San Juan or Santurce. “I’d go the mall with Tim Belcher, Dave Sax and sometimes Wally Joyner and Harold Reynolds went with us,” said Zachry. “We’d get up early and drive there and see a movie before the game. When I conversed with Reynolds prior to a 1992 Seattle-Baltimore game at Camden Yards, he was quite appreciative of his Puerto Rico experience. Reynolds mentioned the positive influence of Mariners 1992 3B coach—Orlando “Marty” Martínez, a native of Havana, Cuba. Marty Martínez held different roles with the Mariners, including as a key scout who signed Hall of Famer Edgar Martínez and Omar Vizquel, who won 11 GG at SS in his 24 MLB seasons.

One interesting observation made by Reynolds in our conversation, prior to the August 19, 1992 game in Baltimore, was his earning the 1991 Roberto Clemente Award, a very special honor based on character and community endeavors—helping others. Reynolds felt honored to receive this Award, which dated to 1971 when it was called the Commissioner’s Award, and Willie Mays was the first [1971] recipient. I later found out Reynolds’s family, in his home state of Oregon, admired Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente, for the way they conducted themselves on and off the field. Once Reynolds entered his teen years, he closely followed Panamanian star Rod Carew, the Hall of Fame 2B-1B, who received the 1977 Roberto Clemente Award. Roberto Clemente Award winners—with a past connection to the Puerto Rico Winter League as a player—included Willie Mays (1971), Phil Niekro (1980), Ken Singleton (1982), Don Baylor (1985), Gary Carter (1989), Reynolds (1991), Cal Ripken Jr. (1992), Tony Gwynn (1999), Al Leiter (2000), Jim Thome (2002), Edgar Martínez (2004), Carlos Delgado (2006), Carlos Beltrán (2013) and Yadier Molina (2018).

Bill Plummer, Johnny Bench’s back-up catcher in Cincinnati during most of the 1970s following the trade of Pat Corrales after the 1970 NL season, took Reynolds under his wing at the Triple A level, and encouraged Reynolds to switch-hit. Reynolds stole 37 more bases for Salt Lake City in 1984, and then hit .363 with the Calgary Cannons of the Pacific Coast League in 1985, in 52 games, but only hit .144 in 67 games with the 1985 Seattle Mariners. Plummer was Seattle’s 1992 manager when I conversed with Reynolds in the visitor’s clubhouse at Camden Yards. It was also nice to converse with some of Reynolds’ Mariners teammates with a Puerto Rico Winter League connection—Edgar Martínez, Henry Cotto, Lance Parrish and Pete O’Brien—plus Kevin Mitchell and Omar Vizquel.

Reynolds became Seattle’s regular 2B in 1986 and a three-time GG winner, 1988-to-1990. He led the AL with 60 SB in 1987 and was a 2X AL All-Star, 1987 and 1988. Reynolds developed a friendly rivalry with Rickey Henderson, who had won seven straight AL SB titles, 1980-to-1986, until Reynolds stole 60 in 1987, the year Henderson was limited to 95 games, and stole 41 bases. Reynolds hit .300 for Seattle in 1989 with a .300/.359/.369/.728 slash line. He scored 100 runs in 1990 and hit 36 doubles, the most he ever hit in an AL season. When I spoke with Reynolds (August 19, 1992) in Baltimore, Seattle had already promoted Bret Boone; and he made his MLB debut at 2B in the starting line-up, with Seattle that night.

My second chance to converse with Harold Reynolds came in May 1993, when he was with the Baltimore Orioles. Reynolds signed a one-year free agent deal with the 1993 Orioles, and played in 145 games, hitting .252 with 12 SB. Baltimore was hosting the Milwaukee Brewers and I recall conversations with Leo Gómez, the Orioles 3B; Todd Frohwirth, Baltimore relief pitcher; Elrod Hendricks, the Baltimore coach; Dickie Thon, Robin Yount, Jaime Navarro and Rickey Bones of the Brewers; among others. I spoke briefly with Reynolds that particular (May 22, 1993) afternoon.

Reynolds completed his 12-year AL career with the 1994 California Angels, playing 74 games, hitting .232 and stealing 10 bases. In 1,374 AL games, he had 4,782 AB; scored 640 runs; got 1,233 hits, including 230 doubles, 53 triples, 21 HR and 353 RBIs. He stole 250 bases with 138 CS. His 480 walks-to-417 strikeouts was impressive. His slash line was .258/.327/.341/.668, fairly close to his 1985-86 Puerto Rico season: .245/.333/.333/.667. He had one AL SB every 5.5 games, versus one SB in Puerto Rico every 5.2 games. His seven minor-league seasons resulted in a .298/.370/.392/.762 slash line, with 220 SB and 100 CS.

I appreciate Harold Reynolds’s ability and talent as a baseball analyst, video instructor and broadcaster, on the MLB channel, since 2009. His candor, goodwill and attention to detail makes for interesting and insightful commentary. The 3x AL Gold Glove winner, 2x AL All-Star, 1x AL SB leader and 1991 Roberto Clemente Award winner is a credit to our International Pastime.

Photo courtesy of Roberto Mercado.

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