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Hector Lopez Newsbeat

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Hector Lopez, Who Broke a Baseball Color Barrier, Dies at 93

Hector Lopez, the first Black manager at the highest level of minor league baseball and one of the last living members of the early 1960s Yankees dynasty, who played in the team’s outfield alongside Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, died on Thursday in Hudson, Fla. He was 93.

His son Darrol Lopez said the cause of his death, in a hospital, was complications of lung cancer.

A native of Panama, Lopez was one of the first Black players for the Yankees. Appearing in five consecutive World Series, he was the very essence of a utility player, a capable nonstar who filled in as an infielder or an outfielder wherever there was a need. 
In the fifth and final game of the 1961 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, he smashed a home run and a triple and drove in five runs in a 13-5 victory.

Lopez was released by the Yankees after the 1966 season, in which the team finished 10th and last, ending his 12-year playing career with a .269 average and 136 home runs. He played in the minor leagues for a couple of seasons, hoping to return to the majors. But instead, in 1969 he was named manager of the Buffalo Bisons, then the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers).

A New York Times headline read, “Hector Lopez Slides Safely Into Buffalo as First Negro Pro Baseball Pilot.” Lopez, lacking a star pedigree or much experience in coaching, was an unlikely trailblazer. George Vecsey, the longtime Times sports columnist, wrote that as an aging minor league player in Buffalo, Lopez was “a helpful senior citizen to Washington Senator farmhands” and got the job by being “in the right place at the right time and by wanting the job.”

“Good for Hector,” Elston Howard, the first Black Yankees player, said. “This is a good break for him.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 02, 2022 at 06:57 PM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: hector lopez, obituaries

 

 

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