Yankee Hector Lopez Predicted Records For Maris AND Mantle In 1961 Home Run Race

Watching history
happen  in 1961

Former Yankee Hector Lopez is a joy. He sounds more like a fan than a co-star in baseball history, someone grateful to have been part of it all.

How did it feel watching home run history being rewritten in 1961? He recalled:

“The Maris and Mantle home run derby in 1961: I thought both were going to do it, but Mantle got hurt.”

That same year, Lopez cemented his own bit of baseball history, becoming the first Panamanian-born player to win a World Series. One year earlier, Lopez became the first native to play in a Series. To this day, he shares the glory with other countrymen.

“About the attention I got in my hometown and the country was great. Panama is a small Central American county. It was always a baseball kind of country. They had some players, very good players, before me but never made it to the Big League.

By the way, Humberto Robinson was the first Panamanian to play in the ‘Big.’ He beat me by a couple of weeks in 1955.”

Reading the Wikipedia bio of Lopez, it’s important to note that he challenged one of baseball’s last color barriers. In 1969, six years before Frank Robinson landed his Cleveland Indians job, Lopez assumed the managerial helm of AAA Buffalo Bisons.

“Being named manager of the Buffalo Bisons, I had no idea I was making history.”

Tomorrow: What are the best bargains and worst deals for TTM signers? Veteran collector Rich Hanson makes his calls.

J.W. Porter Remembers Tiger Stadium

J.W. Porter appreciated every game. Active from 1952-59, he converted to catching to prolong his career. In the 1950s, he played six different positions while collecting some keen baseball insights.

He wrote…

“Tiger Stadium was the perfect stadium. Fair to both pitcher and hitter. What made it perfect, however, was that it was perfect for the fan. Not a bad seat in the place and you felt you could reach out and touch the players.”

In 1958, one of Porter’s Cleveland teammates was a young Roger Maris.

“Roger was a great teammate on and off the field. He had a fine rookie year and should never have been traded. It was surprising to everyone what he did in 1961. I guess it was a case of a player finding the perfect park for his particular swing.

“He would probably hit 90 homers in new Yankee Stadium.”

Although Porter uncorked just eight homers in his major league career, two blasts seemed sweetest.

“One of my homers was an extra-inning pinch-hit off Billy O’Dell. That was my only walk-off homer. The one I’ll remember the most, however, was against Don Larsen, the first game he pitched the next year following his perfect game.”

Porter is one of the dwindling group of St. Louis Browns survivors. Most of all, he seems one of baseball’s most grateful alums.

“Thanks for asking,” he signed.

My pleasure, J.W.

%d bloggers like this: