Juan “Terín” Pizarro—Legendary Lefty from Santurce, Puerto Rico—Rest in Peace

Juan Pizarro signing his first professional contract with Santurce in 1955. Also in the photo, Pedrin Zorrilla (left), owner of Santurce, and Terin´s mentor, Harry Rexach.

From 1981-84, the author would exercise via outdoor aerobics classes at Parque Central (Central Park), in Santurce, a facility administered by the municipality of San Juan. (Santurce is a sector of San Juan.) Afterwards, he might converse with one of his favorite baseball players—Juan “Terín” Pizarro, a park administrator, who worked on youth programs. These conversations touched on the toughest hitter for Terín in the American League (AL), 1961-66—the 5’5” 140-lb. Albie Pearson with the 1961-64 Los Angeles Angels and 1965-66 California Angels—to the 1959 National League (NL) pennant race between his Milwaukee Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers, which resulted in a best-of-three playoff. It is Terín in this blog, as he was known in Puerto Rico. Its focus is Puerto Rico, the Caribbean Series, and Inter-American Series. Terín became his nickname due to his love for action-adventure comic strip “Terry and the Pirates.”

Terín, quiet and reserved, appeared to enjoy these conversations. He appreciated conversing about baseball history in a setting removed from the old Sixto Escobar Stadium, where he made his professional pitching debut for the 1955-56 Santurce Crabbers, managed by Herman Franks; or from Hiram Bithorn Stadium, in Hato Rey, where he toiled for the Crabbers for 15 winter seasons: 1962-63 to 1976-77. Terín was associated with the Crabbers for another two plus decades as a pitching coach. He combined humility, a low-key sense of humor, physical talent, a love for the game, along with a keen desire to represent Puerto Rico, and perform well, in Caribbean Series and Inter-American Series events. His SABR bio by Rory Costello, at https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/juan-pizarro/, will furnish informative insights on Terín, dating to his childhood and professional baseball career. Costello captured the essence of Terín in this bio.

Just over half of Terín’s 84 years on earth were spent with the Crabbers: 19.5 seasons as a player, plus another 24 as a [pitching] coach. Terín was a devoted fan of Santurce from about 1945-46, age eight, through his seasons as one of their batboys, until his debut with them at 18. He loved the Crabbers when he pitched for them, too. Terín was born in Santurce, February 7, 1937. He passed away Thursday evening, February 18, 2021, in Carolina. The Barrio Obrero section of Santurce—a working-class area with homes and businesses—was where he lived for many years. (Most Barrio Obrero residents were rabid Crabbers fans.) During the mid-1970s and early 1980s, the author frequented and used a travel agency in Barrio Obrero  owned by Mr. Crescioni, father of deceased baseball historian José A. Crescioni Benítez. Residents of this area played dominoes and discussed politics, baseball and many other topics. Coincidentally, the Santurce home where the author and his family lived (1960-66) was owned by José A. Crescioni Benítez’s grandfather.

Puerto Rico Winter League (PRWL), 1955-1967

Rubén Gómez and Terin Pizarro.

Terín’s 157-110 W-L record in 22 league seasons places him second, to Rubén Gómez’s 174 wins, in league history. Only three hurlers—Rubén from this point forward, Terín, Luis “Tite” Arroyo, José “Pantalones” Santiago and Luis Rafael Cabrera—won 100+ regular season games. Three (Rubén, Terín and “Cabrerita”) were lifetime Crabbers: Rubén pitched his final (1976-77) season with Bayamón; Cabrerita wore the San Juan uniform, 1961-62; and Terín was acquired by the 1956-57 Caguas Criollos, when he, Roberto Clemente and Ronnie Samford were sold by Santurce new owner, Ramón Cuevas, to liquidate a $30,000 debt. Santurce re-acquired Terín prior to 1959-60, from Caguas, sending Navarro and José A. Pagán to Caguas. Santurce also received $10,000. Most remarkable was Terín’s 46 career (regular season) SHO in Puerto Rico, to Rubén’s 32. Terín was #1 in strikeouts, with 1,804, versus Rubén’s 1,390 (in 29 seasons). In win PCT, Terín’s .588 trailed Tomás “Planchardón” Quiñones (.678), Rafaelito Ortíz (.625) and Rubén (.594). Terín’s career WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched) = 1.16. In 2,403 innings, he allowed 1,980 hits and walked 808. Three other league players played 22 seasons—Juan José “Tití´Beníquez, Julio Navarro and Héctor Valle. RHP Luis “Mambo” de León pitched in the league for 25 seasons.

Herman Franks liked the way an 18-year old Terín pitched, for the 1955-56 Crabbers. “We were coming off that great [1954-55] championship season (with Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Don Zimmer…other fine talent). Now [1955-56] we had young talent, like Juan [Terín], Orlando [Cepeda], Julio [Navarro] and José Pagán.” Franks used Terín sparingly, but he fanned 25 hitters in 23.1 innings, in going 2-1, with a 4.24 ERA. Santurce’s four starters were: Rubén, Steve Ridzik, Al Worthington and Bill Greason. They were a combined 25-11 at the halfway point, but injuries to Zimmer and Bob Thurman were one reason the club finished 43-29 (first-place) and eventually lost their final series to Caguas, in six games.

Triple Crown winner, Terín Pizarro, with Caguas in 1957-58

Terín’s 1957-58 pitching Triple Crown season for Caguas featured 14 wins, 183 strikeouts and a 1.32 ERA! His nine SHO are an all-time, single-season league mark. He no-hit Mayagüez, 10-0, on November 21, 1957.  On February 1, 1958, he fanned 15 Crabbers and hit a key double in the eighth, to help the Criollos win Game Three of the finals, 7-4. Terín had 414 combined wins in all pro leagues, including his [partial] Puerto Rico semi-final/final series wins. Rubén’s 408 combined pro/semi-pro wins also included post-season contests and All-Star Games per Table I.

Table I: Rubén Gómez versus Terín Pizarro

League(s)Rubén GómezTerín PizarroHighlights
Major League76-86131-105Terín, 16-8 and 19-9, 1963/1964  White Sox; 2x AL All-Star. Rubén, 13-11 and 17-9, 1953/1954 Giants.
Minors (U.S. CAN)69-3666-26Terín, 23-6, 1956 Jacksonville; 9-0, 1970 Hawaii. Rubén: 14-4, 1950 St. Jean, Provincial League.
Puerto Rico174-119157-110Rubén: 1951-52 MVP; Terín: 1957-58 MVP; pitching Triple Crown.
Mexico19-2138-21Rubén: 10-4, 1.24 ERA for 1966 Veracruz Azules. Terín: 13-6, 1.57 ERA for 1974 Cordoba Cafeteros.
DR and VZA8-3 DR 1-0 VZADid not participate (DNP)Rubén, ace pitcher for 1952 Licey Tigers in DR (7-3); 1-0 for 1963-64 Escogido Lions (DR).
Semi-Pro (Quebec)27-5DNPRubén became fluent in French.
Regular Season374-270392-262Terín: .599 PCT; Rubén: .581 PCT.
Post-Season and All-Star Games   
World Series1-00-0Rubén defeated Cleveland, Game Three, 1954 series. Terín pitched in relief for Milwaukee, versus New York Yankees, 1957 and 1958.
Caribbean Series6-24-2Rubén tied José de la Trinidad “Carrao” Bracho and Camilo Pascual with six wins. Terín: most strikeouts (62) in series history.
InterAm Series#DNP^2-0# (partial)Terín pitched a no-hitter versus Panamá, February 8, 1963.
PR All-Star Game1-0#1-0#Rubén: Winning pitcher, December 12, 1954, 7-5 win by San Juan-Santurce versus Caguas-Ponce-Mayagüez. Terín: Winning pitcher, January 1, 1967, 6-1 win by Latin Americans over North Americans.
PR Semi-Finals10-58-2#Both hurlers pitched well.
PR Finals11-37-2#Terín pitched three straight SHO, 1972-73 post-season, for Santurce.
DR and VZA5-4DNPRubén: combined 3-3 for Licey and Escogido; 2-1 for Magallanes and LaGuaira. LaGuaira won in 1965-66.
Post-Season Totals34-1422-6Both performed admirably.

#Partial records for Pizarro. Exclude 1961 and 1964 InterAmerican Series, reinforcing San Juan, plus some semi-final and final series W-L decisions. ^Gómez was on Santurce’s 1961-62 roster, but did not pitch in 1962 InterAmerican Series. DR: Dominican Republic; VZA: Venezuela. Gómez’s SABR bio by the author is at https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/ruben-gomez/..Also his record in Puerto Rico: https://beisbol101.com/ruben-gomez-3/

In 1961-62, he formed a dynamic duo with Santurce teammate Bob Gibson. Terín was 12-6, 2.53 ERA, with a league-leading 154 strikeouts in 146 innings. Gibson was 6-8, 2.12 ERA; he fanned 142 in 136 innings. Craig Anderson, Santurce’s #3 starter, reminded the author: “Do not forget [Terín] Pizarro; Gibson blossomed, post-Puerto Rico, but Pizarro could pitch and hit.” (Al Schroll was Santurce’s fourth starter, 1961-62.) The Crabbers won the league playoffs, thanks to Terín’s 1-0 semi-final series win in Game Seven, over Caguas. Luis Tiant, losing pitcher, said this: “That was my first winter season in Puerto Rico. The league was very strong and had many good pitchers including [Terín] Pizarro. We gave it our best, but Beltrán got hold of fastball. Ay [oh], Martín Beltrán.” On February 2, 1962, Terín beat Mayagüez, 3-1, in Game Three, finals. Valmy Thomas drove in two; Terín’s hit brought in Elrod Hendricks with an insurance run. Santurce skipper Vern Benson knew that a winner in the Caribbean had to have four solid starters, good defense, above average power and adequate team speed.

The author, a die-hard Crabbers fan by 1963, first heard Juan “Terín” Pizarro mentioned—with Santurce teammate Sam McDowell—in 1962-63. The author’s father was Sam John Van Hyning Jr.; so, Sam and Juan—Spanish for John—resonated with the author, who saw Terín pitch in 1964-65 and 1966-67, Santurce championship seasons. Preston Gómez (no relation to Rubén) managed the 1964-65 squad. Terín was 19-9 for the 1964 Chicago White Sox, to break Hiram Bithorn’s 18 wins with the 1943 Chicago Cubs, the prior AL/NL single-season best for a Puerto Rico-born pitcher. White Sox GM Bob Short offered Terín $5,000 NOT to pitch for Santurce, 1964-65, a season Terín made $3,900. Per Hiram Cuevas, Santurce’s owner, “Terín would have none of that. He accepted my offer of $1,300/month to pitch because he loved Santurce’s fans.”

Marv Staehle, a 2B/SS, was Pizarro’s teammate, last month of the 1964 AL pennant race, when the 98-64 White Sox fell short to the Yankees by one game. Staehle joined Santurce for the 1964-65 winter season and was a stellar 2B. He was so confident Terín would win Game Six of the finals versus Mayagüez, he made reservations to leave Puerto Rico early Wednesday (February 3, 1965) morning. Terín continued his mastery of Mayagüez by winning it, 6-1, at Bithorn Stadium, Tuesday night, February 2. Staehle scored the first run after his hit, followed by singles from Lou Johnson and Tony Pérez. Ismael Trabal, Mayagüez sportswriter and broadcaster, later told the author: “All Terín  had to do against Mayagüez was to throw his glove on the mound. There was a stretch in the 1960s that we could do nothing against him.”

“We did win it,” said Staehle. “Juan told me, ‘I’m going to pour you on that plane.’ We went out after the final game and celebrated. That was really special.” The Crabbers had George Brunet, Fred Talbot and Manly Johnston, to complement Terín and Rubén, plus reliever Jim Dickson.

Rubén Gómez and Earl Weaver encouraging Juan Pizarro in the 1966-67 season.

Earl Weaver became Santurce’s manager in 1966-67 and 1967-68 via Harry Dalton’s (Baltimore Executive/GM) friendship with Crabbers owner Cuevas. Weaver, via mail, mentioned he was fortunate to manage big leaguers like Orlando Cepeda, Tony Pérez, Terín and Rubén. Weaver had played winter ball with the 1955-56 Águilas Cibaeñas in the Dominican Republic (LIDOM); and managed the Lara Cardinals, in Venezuela, for three seasons, pre-Santurce. (Weaver got the Baltimore managing job when Dalton fired Hank Bauer during the 1968 All-Star break.)

Weaver appreciated Pizarro for eight strong innings at Ponce, February 1, 1967, Game Six, league finals, prior to Paul Blair’s three-run HR off a John Boozer spitball, in the  ninth. LHP Ted Davidson pitched a scoreless ninth, in a 6-3 win. Dave May homered earlier. Davidson was recruited to play for Santurce by 1966 Cincinnati teammate Tony Pérez. Davidson played on the same 1964-65 Caracas Lions team with Pete Rose; started a  LIDOM game for Licey versus arch-rival Escogido and their ace, Juan Marichal. Pizarro enjoyed playing for Santurce, with good teammates, and against good competition. Dick Hughes was encouraged to play for 1966-67 Santurce, by Orlando Cepeda, his St. Louis teammate, September 1966. Hughes, Blair and May rented a Volkswagen for $300/month, and contributed $100 each. Hughes’s spouse (Anne) drove the three players to home games at Bithorn Stadium, with the Hughes’s baby, in the car. Hughes played cards with Weaver and teammates on road trips to Mayagüez and Ponce.

Santurce (45-26) avenged their tie-breaker loss to Ponce (46-25) for first-place by winning the finals. The Crabbers staff posted a 1.93 regular season ERA in 607.1 innings. Hughes, 11-2, 1.79 ERA; Terín, 12-3, 2.08 ERA; Rubén, 6-7, 2.11 ERA; and, Darrell Osteen, 5-7, 1.83 ERA, were a combined 34-19, with a 1.95 ERA. Weaver got 480 innings out of them, 79 percent of the team’s staff. They accounted for 90 percent of Santurce’s starts, but were ably assisted by Davidson, 7-3, 1.72 ERA; William de Jesús, 2-4, 1.76 ERA; and, José “Kindo” Geigel, 2-0, 2.45 ERA. Israel Torres pitched two innings, in two games, without allowing a run. Rubén turned this series around with a 7-0 SHO over Ponce, in Game Three, at Bithorn (with 20,001 paid fans). 

1967 Spring Training Game at Bithorn: New York Yankees versus Pittsburgh

Terin Pizarro, Roberto Clemente, Ramón ¨Monchile¨Concepción and José A. Pagán when Pittsburgh played in Puerto Rico. against the Yankees.

On April 2, 1967, the author and his dad attended a spring training game at Bithorn, featuring  Terín, starting for Pittsburgh, against the New York Yankees. (Pittsburgh played Baltimore at Bithorn; and, at Ponce’s Paquito Montaner Stadium, preceding a third game.) The Yankees scored first, top of the first, when Mickey Mantle hit a 420-foot line drive off Terín, over the LF fence. Terín settled down and pitched well, after that, in a [9-2] Pittsburgh win. It was a thrill to see Maury Wills play for Pittsburgh, after the Dodgers traded him to the Pirates in the off-season. Conversely, Terín went to Pittsburgh on November 28, 1966, “player to be named later,” to complete an October 12, 1966 trade, when LHP Wilbur Wood was traded to the White Sox. Terín’s trades/big league transactions are at https://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/trades.php?p=pizarju01#:~:text=Juan%20Pizarro%20Trades%20%26%20Transactions&text=Signed%20as%20an%20amateur%20free%20agent%20by%20Milwaukee%20Braves%20(1956).&text=Traded%20by%20Chicago%20White%20Sox,(October%2012%2C%201966).

Caribbean Series Heroics, Phase I (1958 and 1960)

Terín’s performances in Phase I of the Caribbean Series, a four-team regional event comprising Cuba, Panamá, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, were second-to-none. On February 9, 1958, the day after turning 21, he blanked Panamá’s Carta Vieja Yankees, 8-0, on a two-hitter. He fanned 17 Yankees, still a Caribbean Series record. He pitched two other games, Cuba’s Marianao Tigers won the decisive sixth game, 2-0, behind Bob Shaw. Minnie Miñoso and Solly Drake scored in the ninth off Jerry Nelson. Frank “Paco” Otto, one of 16,000 fans at Sixto Escobar Stadium, recalled that Ted Norbert, Caguas-Rio Piedras skipper, summoned Terín to pinch-hit with two outs in the home ninth. Terín, a good hitter throughout his career, flied out to end the series. He  went four—for-seven, a .571 AVG, in this series, with a double, triple and two RBI! Pitching-wise, his 29 strikeouts in 16.2 innings remain the standard for most series strikeouts.

Caguas added Terín for the 1960 Caribbean Series in Panamá. Terín (1-1) and Earl Wilson (1-1) won their only games. George Brunet (0-1) and Pantalones Santiago (0-1) were other starters. Ray Rippelmeyer reinforced Caguas, after pitching for San Juan in the regular season; he was Steve Carlton’s pitching coach with the 1970s Phillies, who made sure Carlton used his slider. Rippelmeyer felt Terín had the talent and ability to be a “dominant pitcher in his big-league career” with a terrific fast ball, good curve ball and a screwball (which Terín had picked up from Rubén). Terín had a 16-to-eight strikeout-to-walk ratio in Panamá, came in 14 innings. He allowed 14 hits. Cuba’s Cienfuegos Elephants—paced by Camilo Pascual’s 2-0 record—went undefeated (6-0). Orlando Peña (1-0), Pedro Ramos (1-0), Raúl Sánchez (1-0) and Pedro Carrillo (1-0) also pitched well.

Inter-American Series Heroics, 1961-64

Terín is the only pitcher to represent Puerto Rico in four straight Inter-American Series events, 1961-64. He reinforced San Juan, 1961 and 1964, when Roberto Clemente was their star, when  Caracas, Venezuela (1961) and Managua, Nicaragua (1964) held it. On February 6-14, 1962, Santurce hosted, and won this event, at Sixto Escobar Stadium, with an 8-1 record, MOST post-

season wins in the history of any Inter-American or Caribbean Series. Terín (1-1) defeated the Caracas Lions, 10-1, on February 7, 1962—his 25th birthday! He had a no-decision four days later versus Mayagüez and their starter Luis Tiant, a reinforcement. Santurce’s pitchers and their records were: Bob Gibson (2-0), Orlando Peña (2-0), Craig Anderson (1-0), Al Schroll (1-0), Terín (1-0) and Roberto Barbosa (1-1). Terín made the series All-Star Team.

Table II: February 1962 Inter-American Series All-Star Team

Charles Lau-CMayagüez
Jim Frey-1BCaracas
César Tovar-2BCaracas
Miguel de la Hoz-3BSanturce
Teodoro Obregón-SSCaracas
Al Pinkston-LFMarlboro (Panamá-Nicaragua)
Tony González-CFSanturce
Orlando Cepeda-RFSanturce
Orlando Peña-RHPSanturce
Terín Pizarro-LHPSanturce
Vern Benson-MGR (8-1)Santurce

Terín pitched the only Inter-American Series no-hitter, February 8, 1963, a 5-0 win over Valencia, Venezuelan champions, with 10 strikeouts and four walks. Wito Conde’s back-handed grab of a first-inning liner by Angel Scull, was a key play. Panamá’s Chiriquí-Bocas defeated Nicaragua’s Boer Indians, in a tie-breaker, to win this series.

Caribbean Series Heroics, Phase II (1971, 1973 and 1976)

Terín won two of three decisions in three Caribbean Series events, hosted by San Juan (1971), Caracas (1973) and Santo Domingo/Santiago, Dominican Republic (1976). He pitched for Santurce twice, and reinforced the Bayamón Cowboys, managed by José Pagán, 1975-76.

The Dominican Republic (1970) and Mexico (1971) replaced Cuba and Panamá.

His third Caribbean Series win came on February 5, 1973, versus Obregón (Mexico), a 9-2 CG. Angel “Cookie” Mangual homered for Santurce; Terín scattered eight hits. Four days earlier, Licey knocked Terín out of the box after three innings, in their 8-2 win, behind Pedro Borbón. Steve Yeager homered off Terín. Licey won five of six games to win it. Terín was selected to the All-Star Team, along with RHP Diego Seguí, his ex-1963-64 Santurce teammate. Seguí recalled fanning 15 Crabbers, in this Caribbean Series.

Table III: February 1973 Caribbean Series All-Star Team

Steve Yeager-CLicey
Gonzalo Márquez-1BCaracas
Gustavo Gil-2BCaracas
Steve Garvey-3BLicey
Bobby Valentine-SSLicey
Jesús Alou-LFLicey
Manny Mota-CFLicey
César Tovar-RFCaracas
Diego Seguí-RHPCaracas
Terín Pizarro-LHPSanturce
Tommy Lasorda-MGR (5-1)Licey

Two years earlier, Terin had no decisions in the February 1971 Caribbean Series at Bithorn, also won by Licey. The author saw Reggie Jackson hit a HR for Santurce, February 7, 1971, Terín’s 34th birthday, but the LaGuaira Sharks won it, 6-5, with a ninth-inning run off William de Jesús.

Terín turned 39 on February 7, 1976, in the Dominican Republic, when he blanked Venezuela’s Aragua Tigers, 2-0, with eight strikeouts and four walks. Enos Cabell got two hits; Manny Trillo, the other one. George Brunet, Terín’s ex-1964-65 Santurce teammate, was voted LHP, All-Star Team. (Brunet was 1-0, 1.50 ERA.) Jerry Hairston Sr., All-Star OF with Mexico’s Hermosillo Orange Growers, was thrilled Mexico won this event for the first time. “My wife is from Mexico and I was proud we won it. Dad (Sam Hairston) played for San Juan, in Puerto Rico (1947-48).”

Terín, per Tables IV and V, holds a special place in Caribbean Series history, Phases I and II, with the most strikeouts (62). He is second to José Rijo in strikeouts per nine innings, minimum 30 IP.

Table IV: Top Five Strikeout Artists, Caribbean Series History

Terín PizarroPR56.162
Luis “Mambo” de LeónPR6156
José RijoDR35.150
Odell JonesPR/DR/VZA5248
Rubén GómezPR74.145

Table V: Top Five Strikeouts/IP, Caribbean Series History, 30+ IP

José RijoDR35.1    12.73
Terin PizarroPR56.19.91
Francisco CamposMX34.29.87
Aurelio LópezMX30.19.49
Wilson AlvarezVZA329.00

Only three pitchers have two SHO in Caribbean Series history: Terín (PR), Nino Espinosa (DR) and Camilo Pascual (Cuba). Vicente Romo (MX) is the only pitcher with 10 Caribbean Series starts. Carrao Bracho (VZA), Francisco Javier Oliveras (PR), Julián Tavarez (DR) and Efraín Valdez (DR) have nine. Terín’s eight starts are a sixth-place tie with seven others, including George Brunet (PAN/PR/MX). Overall, Terín was 4-2 with a 4.31 ERA. https://www.seriedelcaribe.net/articulos/lideres-de-por-vida-lanzadores/  

PRWL Highlights, 1967-1977

Terin’s final decade with the Crabbers had noteworthy seasons:

  • 11-2, 2.37 ERA for Earl Weaver, 1967-68
  • 8-5, 1.93 ERA for Frank Robinson, 1968-69
  • 6-3, 2.31 ERA, one (his only league) save, 1970-71
  • 10-2, 2.64 ERA,1972-73
  • 2-0, 3.66 ERA for Jack McKeon, 1976-77.

McKeon appreciated Terín’s professionalism and willingness to help his teammates. Paul Hartzell (8-2 W-L, 2.92 ERA, 92 IP) was Santurce’s ace, 1976-77. He vividly recalled Terín’s presence and expertise via a February 19, 2021 e-mail.

“Juan was a really nice man who—although he might have pitched a bit during the season—was much more of a pitching coach to me. He was quiet, but when he found out that I had Craig Anderson as my college pitching coach, that seemed to be a catalyst for us to talk about pitching. He had a wonderful curveball and showed me how he threw it from the left-side. I used that grip for the rest of my career. He always went with me to the bullpen before I pitched and had a very positive way of communicating. I’m sorry to hear of his passing.”

Terín’s complete Puerto Rico Professional Baseball League stats are found at: https://beisbol101.com/juan-terin-pizarro/  

Coaching/Other Highlights, 1977-2000

Rubén Gómez was appointed manager of Santurce for the 1981-82 season along with his Coaches’ staff Luis Isaac, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Pizarro.

Reinaldo “Poto” Paniagua honored Terín’s 20-year contract as a pitching coach: 1977-78 through 1996-97, and retained him a few more seasons. Paniagua had a tremendous amount of respect for Terín, with #1 on his Santurce uniform. Luis Tiant enjoyed having “some cold ones” with Terín, in the Santurce clubhouse, after 1982-83 home games. (Santurce players were allowed to take/consume two [cold] beers with them after these home games.) At times, Terín played a secondary role, when the Los Angeles Dodgers sent pitching instructor Dave Wallace to Santurce, 1986-89, to assist Crabbers skipper Kevin Kennedy. Wallace noted: “Juan Pizarro showed me the ropes in Puerto Rico and was very helpful…knew the Puerto Rican players.” Ray Miller, Santurce’s 1989-90 manager, liked having Terín as his pitching coach. In 1996-97, Vern Ruhle, the Houston Astros roving minor league pitching instructor, was Santurce’s primary pitching coach, with Terín providing support, when Frankie Thon was Houston’s Caribbean area scout. Terín was José “Cheo” Cruz’s pitching coach, 1995-96, when Cheo managed Santurce.

Santurce won Caribbean Series titles in February 1993 (Mazatlán, Mexico) and February 2000 (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), with Terín as pitching coach. The author got to (briefly) visit with Terín, one last time, November  1999, at Bithorn Stadium. Ken Griffey Sr., the Santurce skipper, left the Island later in the season, pre-post-season. Griffey Sr. was Terín’s Bayamón teammate, February 1976 Caribbean Series, and “respected Terín’s demeanor and what he did for his [Santurce] pitchers, behind the scenes.” Mako Oliveras, the Crabbers manager during their 1993 and 2000 Caribbean Series triumphs, idolized Terín. “He is one of my heroes,” stated Oliveras. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Terín as a player, coach and human being.” Nick Acosta, Santurce trainer from about the mid-1960s through [at least] 2000, alerted the author that “Terín was very special,” when we {Nick/author] conversed in the Santurce dugout, circa November 1999. “He [Terín] was one of a kind.”

Two Hall of Fame Ceremonies

On October 20,  1991, Terín and nine other former players were inducted into the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, in this entity’s first [of four] ceremonies. The 1991 event took place in Ponce and was well attended. Terín sat at the same table with Vic Power, another inductee. Rubén was unable to attend, but Bob Thurman and Orlando Cepeda did attend. (The author coordinated Thurman’s trip to Puerto Rico, and stayed at the same Ponce hotel, as did Thurman—Hotel Meliá.) Thurman was more of an extrovert than Terín. He (Thurman) was not surprised that Terín had a long Puerto Rico and big-league career. “I was a left-handed pitcher  for the [Homestead] Grays, with Escogido [Lions] and Santurce, when not playing RF. Terín had a lot of natural ability…and he could hit, too.”

Fittingly, Terín was inducted into the Caribbean Series Hall of Fame in 2000, along with RHP Orlando Peña, from Cuba; Héctor López, from Panamá; and Venezuela’s Luis “Camaleón” García. It was a well-deserved honor, at age 63, for Terín, and more special, when Santurce went undefeated (6-0) in the February 2-8, 2000 Caribbean Series, hosted by Santo Domingo. Tony Piña Campora, the preeminent Caribbean Series historian, via a direct Twitter message on February 20, 2021, categorically stated: “Terín is the BEST pitcher that Puerto Rico has produced; and—until [Venezuelan LHP] Johan Santana (came on the scene), the best lefty from Latin America.”

Post-Script: On September 16, 1971, at Shea Stadium, Terín—with the Chicago Cubs—bested Tom Seaver, who was having his greatest season ever. The score was 1-0. Terín’s solo homer in the eighth  accounted for the run. Only nine pitchers have achieved this feat since 1900, and just two since 1971: Bob Welch (1983) and Noah Syndergaard (2019).

Special thanks and appreciation to Juan “Terín” Pizarro, for his time/insights. Thanks to Paul Hartzell, who recalled a helpful 39-year old LHP teammate/pitching coach, 1976-77; to Craig Anderson, Terín’s 1961-62 teammate; ex-Santurce managers: Herman Franks, 1955-56; Vern Benson, 1961-62; Earl Weaver, 1966-68; Frank Robinson—1968-71, 1973-75, and 1978-80; and Jack McKeon (1976-77); Ray Miller (1989-90); Mako Oliveras (1990-95, 1999-2000); and Ken Griffey Sr., who provided insights on Terín, as pitching coach. So did Dave Wallace and Luis Tiant. Rubén Gómez, Dick Hughes, Ray Rippelmeyer, Marvin Staehle and Bob Thurman furnished thoughts and stories. Hiram Cuevas and Reinaldo “Poto” Paniagua shared tidbits on Terín’s love of the Crabbers-its fans. Ismael Trabal recalled Terín’s dominance over Mayagüez. Paco Otto recalled Terín from the 1958 Caribbean Series, Terín’s first one. Jerry Hairston Sr. reflected on the 1976 Caribbean Series, the last one Terín pitched in. Thanks to Nick Acosta, long-time Santurce trainer. A special thanks to Tony Piña Campora for preserving Terín’s complete Caribbean Series statistics; and, to Jorge Colón Delgado, Official Historian, Puerto Rico Professional Baseball League.

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