Mike de la Hoz won the batting title with San Juan.
Miguel (Mike) de la Hoz died in Miami, Florida, on May 28, 2023. He was 84, born in Havana, Cuba, on October 2, 1938. This blog focuses on his sterling hitting for the Santurce Crabbers in the February 6-14, 1962 Inter-American Series (IAS) at San Juan’s Sixto Escobar Stadium, a nine-game round-robin event between the host Santurce Crabbers, Venezuela’s Caracas Lions, the Mayagüez Indios, and Panamá-Nicaragua Marlboro Smokers. Phase II of the Inter-American Series lasted from 1961 to 1965, having replaced Phase I, Caribbean Series, 1949-1960, involving Cuba, Panamá, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Mike de la Hoz reinforced Santurce—managed by Vern Benson—after winning the Puerto Rico Winter League’s (PRWL) 1961-62 batting title with a .354 BA. San Juan (41-40) failed to qualify for the PRWL playoffs after losing a fourth-place tie-breaker to Arecibo (42-39). However, de la Hoz reinforced third-place Santurce, PRWL playoff champions, in the 1962 IAS, along with San Juan teammate Tony “El Haitiano” González and Arecibo’s
Octavio “Cookie” Rojas. Santurce was favored to win the 1962 IAS, featuring a rotation of Juan “Terín” Pizarro, Bob Gibson, Craig Anderson, and Al Schroll.
Santurce’s line-up included the Rojas (2B), Leo Cárdenas (SS), de la Hoz (3B), Martín Beltrán (1B), Orlando Cepeda (RF), Tony González (CF),
Félix Juan Maldonado (LF), veteran Valmy Thomas, behind the plate, and rookie Elrod Hendricks, Thomas’s backup. Orlando “El Guajiro” Peña was, after being released by San Juan, Santurce’s top reliever, having joined the Crabbers in early January 1962. (Peña replaced Santurce’s injured hurler Ed Bauta,)
Mike de la Hoz with Santurce.
Fast forward to the 1962 IAS, the final professional baseball event at historic Sixto Escobar Stadium, named after Puerto Rico’s first World Boxing Champion. This stadium was initially called Escambrón Stadium due to its geographical location. It was approximately 30 years old, having been inaugurated in 1932. The stadium hosted many barnstorming games during the 1930s, featuring the very best Negro Leaguers, including Slim Jones, Joshua Gibson, Satchel Paige, among many others. From 1938-39 through 1961-62, it hosted PRWL regular season and post-season games, including the famous “Pepelucaso,” the “Shot Heard Around the Caribbean,” on February 17, 1951, when Pepe Lucas’s walk-off homer for Santurce defeated Caguas in the PRWL finals.
Table I includes the 1962 IAS Standings.
Table I: Team Standings, 1962 IAS
Tables II and III include de la Hoz’s BA, HR, and RBIs.
Table II: Top 10 BA Leaders, 1962 IAS
|Mike de la Hoz||SAN||36||13||.361|
|Félix J. Maldonado||SAN||30||10||.333|
|Oscar (Jr.) Rodríguez||MAY||28||9||.321|
CAR=Caracas; MAR=Marlboro; MAY=Mayagüez; SAN=Santurce.
Table III: Most HR and RBIs, 1962 IAS
|Mike de la Hoz||SAN||4||Mike de la Hoz||SAN||13|
|Osvaldo Virgil Sr.||MAY||3||Wito Conde||MAY||10|
|Wito Conde||MAY||2||Vic Davalillo||CAR||8|
|Vic Davalillo||CAR||2||Leo Cárdenas||SAN||6|
|Tony González||SAN||2||Bob Prescott||MAR||6|
|Julio Gotay||MAY||2||José Azcue||CAR||5|
|Charley Lau||MAY||2||Elio Chacón||CAR||5|
|Bob Gibson||SAN||1||Bob Gibson||SAN||5|
|14 other players with||1||Tony González||SAN||5|
All de la Hoz’s homers were vs. Mayagüez, including one on February 8, 1962, a 3-1 win for Orlando Peña, in relief of Craig Anderson.
He hit two more on February 11, when Luis Tiant defeated Santurce,12-8, with a save by Luis “Tite” Arroyo, and his walk-off blast off
Tiant, on February 14, had a 5-4 win. Al Schroll won it in relief of Bob Gibson, who pitched nine innings. This home run was the last in a pro baseball game at historic Sixto Escobar Stadium, a venue later used for Track & Field events and eight-man football games, among other competitions.
As a Robinson School Freshman, the author played eight-man varsity football at Sixto Escobar Stadium, September-November 1969.
Jorge Colón Delgado, Official Historian of the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League and Coordinator of the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, did the editing and photo placements.