Gold Gloves—Part V: Terry Pendleton, 3x NL Gold Glove Winner at 3B

Terry Pendleton with Mayagüez

This is Part V in a series on Gold Gloves (GG) earned by MLB players who played winter ball in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League. Six MLB 3B who played or managed in Puerto Rico have 21 Rawlings Gold Gloves (GG) between them: five American League (AL) and 16 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. Frank Malzone—1957 Boston Red Sox—won the first GG at 3B.

The most GG won by a 3B is 16 by Brooks Robinson (1960-to-1975), followed by Mike Schmidt (10), Scott Rolen (eight) and four players with six apiece—Nolan Arenado, Buddy Bell, Eric Chavez and Robin Ventura. Ken Boyer, with five NL GG at 3B, managed the 1975-76 Ponce Lions in Puerto Rico. Other GG 3B with a Puerto Rico League connection were: Frank Malzone (1957-59 Boston Red Sox), Mike Schmidt (1976-1984 and 1986 Philadelphia Phillies), Terry Pendleton (1987 and 1989 Cardinals, plus 1992 Atlanta Braves), Wade Boggs (1994-95 New York Yankees) and Ken Caminiti (1996-98 San Diego Padres). Mike Lowell—with a 2005 GG for the Florida Marlins—was born in Puerto Rico, but never played winter ball there.  

This blog focuses on Terry Pendleton, who played for the Mayagüez Indians—western part of the Island—in Puerto Rico’s Winter League, in 1984-85. Pendleton was born in Los Angeles, California, July 16, 1960. He played collegiately at Oxnard (California) Community College and Fresno State. Pendleton was a seventh round draft pick by St. Louis in 1982, following his All-America season at Fresno State. His minor league career took him to 1982 Johnson City (Appalachian League, Rookie-class A) and 1982 St. Petersburg (Florida State League, Advanced A); the 1983 Arkansas Travelers (Texas League, class AA); and 1984 Louisville Redbirds (American Association, class AAA). He was a 2B until transitioning to 3B for Arkansas in 1983.

Pendleton hit .297 at Louisville, with four HR and 44 RBIs in 91 games, prior to his promotion to St. Louis, the second-half of the 1984 season. With St. Louis, he had a .324/.357/.420 slash line and .777 OPS in 67 games, featuring 20 SB to five caught stealing (CS). So how/why did Pendleton end up with Mayagüez in 1984-85. “I was originally going to the Dominican Republic, but when [St. Louis third base coach] Nick Leyva got the managing job with Mayagüez, St. Louis felt it was better sending me to Puerto Rico.” Other Mayagüez teammates with big league aspirations were Vince Coleman—who remained at Louisville and stole 101 bases in 152 games, prior to rejoining Pendleton; Bobby Bonilla [acquired in a trade with the San Juan Metros]; John Cangelosi; Sid Bream, among other imports and natives. Bonilla and Cangelosi played as natives since the latter’s mother was from the municipality of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico; whereas Bonilla’s heritage is Puerto Rican, but he was born and raised in the Bronx.  

Leyva saw Mayagüez as a first-rate organization, which made his job that much easier. “The players who went to Puerto Rico really enjoyed playing for [team owner] Luis Gómez,” said Leyva. “He was first-class in everything that he did and always took care of his players. [Hiram] Cuevas [the GM] knew how to put together a ballclub…ran it very professionally and got me good players. Of course, there was Jorge Aranzamendi, Cuevas’s assistant, who did an outstanding job.”

Aranzamendi, who also served as Mayagüez’s director of operations at the time, was a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals, with an excellent working relationship with Dal Maxvill, then-GM for St. Louis. Aranzamendi kept an eye out for team-oriented players like Dan Gladden, when he played for the Shreveport Captains in the Texas League; Aranzamendi got Gladden’s services for Mayagüez, 1983-84. Andy Van Slyke (1982-83), Vince Coleman, Tom Pagnozzi, Ray Lankford and Terry Pendleton were just some St. Louis prospects Aranzamendi secured for Mayagüez. The 1984-85 Mayagüez ballclub finished first at 38-22, in the six–team league, but were swept by fourth-place San Juan (30-29) in the semi-finals. The upstart Metros were called “Los Pillos” (The Thieves) because they found ways to steal games against more talented opponents. Mako Oliveras, San Juan’s manager, told me the 1984-85 Mayagüez team was a terrific group, and Bobby Bonilla—when he was with San Juan prior to his trade to Mayagüez for SS Adalberto Peña—lived at Oliveras’s home and loved the home cooking of Mako’s mom.

Pendleton had a fine semi-final series versus the San Juan Metros, going eight for 21–.381 BA, and five RBIs. His slash line was .381/.391/.476, with a .867 OPS. He hit two doubles; fanned five times; walked once. His regular season stats for Mayagüez included 55 games, 217 AB, 29 runs, 58 hits, a league-leading 15 doubles, one triple, one homer, 22 RBIs, 12 walks, 24 strikeouts, one SF, 10 SB, seven CS, nine GIDP, and five game-winning hits. Pendleton’s slash line was .267/.304/.359, with a .663 OPS.

The six-team Puerto Rico Winter League in 1984-85 was closer to class AAA than MLB quality. Four of the league’s top five hitters in BA were natives:  Orlando Sánchez, Santurce – .333; Bream – .325; José “Cheo” Cruz, Ponce – .323; Luis “Papo” Rosado, San Juan – .315; and Henry Cotto, Caguas – .308. Santurce’s Jerry Willard hit nine homers to lead the league; Skeeter Barnes drove in 40 to be tops in that category. Ramón Avilés, the talented middle infielder who became a Puerto Rico Winter League manager, alerted me in the early 1990s that post-1983-84, the league did not get the best overall imported prospects and many of the best MLB native players did not play as often. (This briefly changed in the mid-1990s after the 1994 MLB players’ strike.) Paul Hartzell, coming off a fine 1976 rookie season with the California Angels, for example, pitched to Orlando Sánchez in Hartzell’s first start for the 1976-77 Santurce Crabbers.

Mayagüez had the league’s best native pitchers, mid-to-late 1980s, including Juan Agosto, José “Chevel” Guzmán and Luis “Mambo” de León, Luis Aquino and Jesús Hernaíz. In 1984-85, Agosto was second in the league with eight saves; Guzmán led the league with a 1.62 ERA. Mayagüez’s SB duo in 1984-85 were one-two in the league with Coleman’s 30 SB and Cangelosi’s 24 SB. Pendleton’s 15 doubles were tops in 1984-85, followed by 13 by Candy Maldonado (Arecibo) and Luis Aguayo (San Juan). Adalberto Peña—traded for Bobby Bonilla—hit 12 doubles for San Juan. Ernesto Díaz González, then-San Juan owner, told the author he authorized this trade due to Dickie Thon’s April 8, 1984 beaning by Mike Torrez…and “San Juan [desperately] needed a shortstop since Thon was unable to play.”

Pendleton played for St. Louis, 1984-to-1990, prior to signing with Atlanta as a free agent on December 3, 1990 for the 1991-94 seasons. With St. Louis, he won GG in 1987 and 1989; played in the 1985 and 1987 World Series; and played in 927 total games with the Cardinals, for a .259/.308/.356 slash line, and .664 OPS. His 1991 season with Atlanta featured a batting title and selection as NL MVP! Pendleton was a key reason Atlanta went from worst (in 1990) to first (in 1991), playing 153 games; scoring 94 and driving in 86; leading the NL with 187 hits and posting a .319/.363/.517 slash line, and .880 OPS. In seven 1991 World Series games versus Minnesota, he hit .367 (11 for 30) with two HR and three RBIs. Pendleton then hit .311 for Atlanta in 1992, with 21 HR and 105 RBIs, posting a .311/.345/.473 slash line, and .818 OPS. He was a NL All-Star and GG winner for the third time, and played in the 1992 World Series against Toronto, plus two more seasons with Atlanta.

Fielding-wise, Pendleton played 1,785 MLB games at 3B, starting 1,751 of them. His 5,515 chances included 1,386 putouts, 3,891 assists and 238 errors. He turned 312 double plays in posting a .957 fielding PCT. His best fielding PCT was .971 in the 1989 NL GG season. Pendleton’s advanced fielding MLB stats are at https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/pendlte01-field.shtml.

The emergence of Chipper Jones in 1995 coupled with Pendleton’s free agency resulted in the latter signing with the Florida Marlins, as a free agent (April 7, 1995). Pendleton returned to Atlanta via an August 13, 1996 trade for Atlanta prospect Roosevelt Brown, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Pendleton played in his fifth World Series, this time versus the New York Yankees. In 27 World Series games, Pendleton had a .298/.356/.457 slash line, and .813 OPS, two HR and nine RBIs. His 15-year MLB career stats with St. Louis, Atlanta, Florida, Cincinnati (1997) and Kansas City (1998) included 1,893 games, 7,032 AB, 854 runs, 1,897 hits, 356 doubles, 39 triples, 140 HR and 946 RBIs. His MLB slash line was .270/.316/.391, with a .707 OPS. He had 127 SB to 59 CS. Pendleton served as an Atlanta hitting coach, 2002-10; five plus seasons as first base coach (2011-16); and several years as Brian Snitker’s bench coach.  In 2003—Pendleton’s second season as Atlanta hitting coach—the Braves set then-franchise records in HR (235), hits (1,608), doubles (321), SLG (.475) and BA (.284). Pendleton helped Andruw Jones change his batting stance for 2005 and Andruw hit 51 HR! Chipper Jones, under Pendleton’s coaching, won the 2008 NL batting title, hitting .364.

On January 18, 2019, Pendleton joined the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame, with Hugh Duffy, who played for the Boston Beaneaters (later Braves), 1892-1900, winning the 1894 NL Triple Crown with a .440 BA, 18 HR and 145 RBIs. The Braves Hall of Fame now has 35 members, including four inductees in the first class of 1999—Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Phil Niekro and Warren Spahn. Other inductees are Greg Maddux (2009), Tom Glavine (2010), Bobby Cox (2011), John Smoltz (2012) Chipper Jones (2013), Javier “Javy” López (2014) and Andruw Jones (2016), etc.

With thanks to Jorge Colón Delgado for furnishing Terry Pendleton’s regular and post-season stats in Puerto Rico. Special appreciation to Terry Pendleton for taking the time to speak with me in spring training 1993. Jorge Aranzamendi, Ramón Avilés, Ernesto Díaz González, Nick Leyva and Mako Oliveras had valuable insights for this blog.

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