|Catcher / Manager|
Born: August 20, 1908|
Died: October 30, 2005 (aged 97)|
|September 27, 1928 for the Brooklyn Robins|
Last MLB appearance
|September 16, 1947 for the Cleveland Indians|
|Runs batted in||652|
|Managerial record||1,410–1,004 (.584)|
Career highlights and awards
|Election Method||Veterans Committee|
Alfonso Ramón "Al" López (August 20, 1908 – October 30, 2005) was an American catcher and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played catcher for the Brooklyn Robins/Dodgers, Boston Bees, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians between 1928 and 1947. He was a manager for the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox from 1951 to 1965 and 1968 to 1969. His Spanish-American heritage and "gentlemanly nature" earned him the nickname "El Señor".
As a player, López was a two-time All-Star and established a major league record for career games as a catcher (1918). As a manager, his .584 career winning percentage ranks fourth in major league history among managers of at least 2000 games, behind Joe McCarthy (.615), Frank Selee (.598) and John McGraw (.586). His Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox teams were the only squads to interrupt the New York Yankees' string of American League pennants from
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López grew up in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Florida, the son of Spanish parents who had briefly lived in Cuba before immigrating to Florida. The Tampa Baseball Museum is being constructed in his childhood home.
Al López was the son of immigrants from Asturias, Spain. Both of his parents immigrated to Cuba, then settled in the Cuban-Spanish-Italian immigrant community of Ybor City in Tampa, Florida in 1906. His father, Modesto López, came over from Cuba in advance of the rest of the family, and López's mother and older siblings joined him a few months later. Alfonso Ramón López, the seventh of nine children, was born in Ybor City in 1908.
When Al López was a small child, Ybor City was a thriving immigrant neighborhood with a population of over 10,000. The cigar industry was the most important in Tampa's economy at the time, and was especially important in Ybor City, where a high percentage of residents were employed either in the cigar factories or in businesses catering to the cigar industry or its employees. Modesto Lopez found work as a selector in a cigar factory, which involved sorting tobacco leaves for use in different grades of cigars. López visited his father's workplace as a child and later said that he "hated" the smell of tobacco leaves that permeated the building and his father's clothing when he returned home from the factory. "I vowed never to work in one." Modesto Lopez died of throat cancer in 1926.
As a teenager, López took a job delivering Cuban bread door to door for La Joven Francesca Bakery, which was located in a building which later became the Ybor City State Museum. He had begun to follow baseball more seriously after his elder brother Emilio introduced him to the game as they followed the results of the 1920 World Series. López later said that while his brother also had baseball talent, he himself was more driven to excel at the game.
López's professional career began in
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After splitting time between the major and minor leagues, Lopez became the Dodgers' regular starting catcher in
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López's best offensive season was
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Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem ejected Lopez from a game before its inception after Lopez pasted, onto home plate, a photo he clipped from a newspaper, which showed Klem clearly in error calling a play involving Lopez. The catcher had covered the photo with dirt and waited for Klem to brush off home plate.
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In 1948, López began his managing career in the minor leagues with the Indianapolis Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates's Class AAA affiliate. He spent three years in Indianapolis, leading his squads to one first place and two second place finishes in the American Association while serving as the team's backup catcher. By September 1950, López had re-signed with the Indianapolis Indians for the largest salary of any manager in American Association history. His contract allowed for him to leave for any major league managerial opportunity.
López was hired as the new manager of the Cleveland Indians in
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The White Sox finished in second place to the Yankees in
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- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. Describing Lopez and his managerial style, a 1957 Sports Illustrated piece said, "For Lopez, managing is a constant worry, a nervous strain, a jittery agony. Some managers thus beset relieve the harrowing pressure by exploding in sudden rages at players and sportswriters, or else by maintaining an almost sphinx-like silence in an effort to remain calm. But Lopez is a gentleman — a decent, thoughtful, exceptionally courteous man. He seldom permits himself the luxury of a temper tantrum, and he talks to anyone who talks to him."
The 1957 White Sox team was light on hitting, in contrast to the Cleveland teams he ran. The team did have speedy players, including Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso and Luis Aparicio. The team stole 109 bases that year and was referred to as the "Go Go Sox". His team finally broke through and won the American League pennant in
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Despite the rumors, López stayed with the team until 1965. He finished in second place five times and never posted fewer than 82 victories. López retired to the White Sox front office after the 1965 season, dealing with a chronic stomach condition. He assumed a vice president position upon stepping down as manager.
López returned to manage the White Sox in July 1968 when Eddie Stanky was fired. He was able to get most of his former coaches to return to the team. However, he had to undergo an appendectomy shortly after taking over as manager and he missed most of the rest of that season. He was forced to retire due to his chronic stomach problems in May 1969. His 1,410 wins ranked 11th all-time, and he never had a losing record in 15 seasons as a big league manager. His 1954 Indians and 1959 White Sox were the only non-Yankee clubs to win the AL pennant between
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López met Evelyn "Connie" Kearney, a dancer at the Hollywood Club in New York. The couple often went on dates with player Tony Cuccinello and his wife. When López was traded to Boston in 1935, the couple found it difficult to conduct a long-distance relationship. Soon thereafter, Kearney moved to Boston. They married in 1939. They had a son, Al Jr., in 1942.
Upon retiring from baseball in 1970, Lopez returned to Tampa to live near family and friends. He died there on October 30, 2005 at the age of 97 after suffering a heart attack at his son's home. His death came just four days after the White Sox won the 2005 World Series, their first championship in 88 years and their first pennant-winning season since Lopez had led them to the World Series in 1959. At the time of his death, Lopez was the last living person who had played major league baseball during the 1920s and is the longest-lived member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
López was the first Tampa native to reach the major leagues, the first to manage a major league team, the first to lead his team to the World Series (the others being Lou Piniella and Tony LaRussa), and the first to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. As such, he has been the recipient of many honors in his hometown.
When the city of Tampa built a new minor league and spring training ballpark for the White Sox in
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An aging Al López Field was razed in
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- George, Justin. He was 'pride of Tampa Latinos'. Tampa Bay Times. November 1, 2005. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- Smashing start Tampa Baseball Museum WTSP
- Al Lopez, a Hall of Fame Manager, is Dead at 97. The New York Times. Octobrt 31, 2005. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- Al Lopez | SABR
- Al Lopez, A Legend. Tampa Tribune.
- Singletary, p. 14.
- Singletary, p. 19.
- Baseball's Greatest Managers, 1961.
- "Al Lopez signed again as chief". Palm Beach Post. September 22, 1950. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- St. Petersburg Times - Google News Archive Search
- Creamer, Robert (July 1, 1957). "The Good Days And The Bad Days Of Al Lopez". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
- Eck, Frank (August 7, 1960). "Eck sees Al Lopez as next pilot of Yanks". Reading Eagle. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- "Lopez, Al". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
- "Al Lopez resigns managerial post with Chicago White Sox". Ellensburg Daily Record. November 5, 1965. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- "Al Lopez resigns". Ocala Star-Banner. May 4, 1969. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- Al Lopez Managerial Record. Sports Reference, LLC. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- Singletary, pp. 98-99.
- St. Petersburg Times - Google News Archive Search
- Hall of Famer Lopez passes at 97. MLB.com. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- The Tiger Tradition. Jesuit High School. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- Basse, Craig (October 31, 2005). "Baseball legend Lopez dies". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
- Morel, Laura C. Al Lopez house moves to Ybor City for new life as museum. Tampa Bay Times. May 16, 2013. Accessed August 22, 2013.
- Al López at the Baseball Hall of Fame
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Al López managerial career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- Al López at Find a Grave
- Al Lopez chronology - Al Lopez chronology from the Tampa Tribune
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