|Catcher / Manager|
August 20, 1908|
|Died: October 30, 2005
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|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|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Election Method||Veterans Committee|
Alfonso Ramon "Al" Lopez (August 20, 1908 – October 30, 2005) was an American catcher and manager in Major League Baseball, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. His Spanish-American heritage and "gentlemanly nature" earned him the nickname "El Señor".
He established a major league record for career games as a catcher, and later became the only manager to interrupt the New York Yankees' string of American League pennants from 1949 to 1964. With a .584 career winning percentage, he ranks 4th in major league history among managers of at least 2000 games, behind Joe McCarthy (.615), Frank Selee (.598) and John McGraw (.586). Over the course of 15 full seasons as manager, he never had a losing record.
Early life 
Lopez was the son of immigrants from Asturias, Spain who went to Cuba, then settled the Spanish-Cuban-Italian immigrant community of Ybor City, Tampa, Florida in the late 1880s. He was born in Ybor City. The cigar industry was most important in Tampa at the time, and Lopez's father, Modesto Lopez, worked in a cigar factory. Lopez visited his father's workplace as a child and "hated" the smell of tobacco that permeated the factory building. "I vowed never to work in one," he said later. Modesto died of throat cancer when Al was a young child. On May 16, 2013, his boyhood home is being moved to 19th Street and 9th Avenue in Tampa, where it will become the Tampa Baseball Museum.
Baseball player 
After a boyhood spent playing baseball whenever possible, his professional career began in 1924 at the age of 16, when he quit school and signed on as a catcher with the Class-D Tampa Smokers of the Florida State League. His starting salary was $150 per month. While with the Smokers, he impressed pitcher Walter Johnson with his abilities during a winter barnstorming exhibition game and was soon moving up in the minor leagues.
Lopez broke into the major leagues in 1928 with the Brooklyn Dodgers and became their starting catcher in 1930. Over a career which ran until 1947, he played for the Dodgers (1928, 1930-1935), Boston Bees (1936-1940), Pittsburgh Pirates (1940-1946) and Cleveland Indians (1947).
His best offensive season was 1933, when he hit .301, stole 10 bases, and finished 10th in National League MVP voting. Overall, he compiled modest batting numbers, including 613 runs, 51 home runs, and 652 RBIs and a .261 batting average. He was better known [according to whom?] for his defense and his ability to handle pitchers, which earned him two trips to the All-Star game and respect around the league.
In 1945, he surpassed Gabby Hartnett's major league record for career games as a catcher, and when he retired after the 1947 season, his major league record for games caught stood at 1918. This record was not broken until 1987 by Bob Boone, and the National League record was broken by Gary Carter in 1990.
Baseball manager 
As the first Tampa native and one of the first Hispanic-Americans to play in the major leagues, Lopez was already well-respected and celebrated in his hometown, especially among the city's Latin community. When he was named manager of the Cleveland Indians in 1951, Tampa honored him with a parade.
Under Lopez, the Indians won over 90 games from 1951 to 1953 but came in second place to the New York Yankees each season. In 1954, the team won a then American League record 111 games to capture the AL pennant but were upset by the New York Giants in the 1954 World Series. In 1955 and 1956, Lopez's squads again finished second to the Yankees.
Lopez was "incensed" that Cleveland fans repeatedly booed Indian's third-baseman Al Rosen during the stretch run of 1956 season and felt that team management did not properly support his injured player. Consequently, he resigned at the end of the season, and agreed to manage the Chicago White Sox a month later.
Lopez enjoyed similar success in Chicago, as his new team finished in 2nd place to the Yankees in 1957 and 1958. His "Go Go White Sox" team finally broke through and won the American League pennant in 1959. He stayed with the team until 1965, finishing in second place five times and never posting fewer than 82 victories.
When the city of Tampa built a new minor league and spring training ballpark for the White Sox in 1954, it was named Al Lopez Field in his honor. Later in life, Lopez would recall a spring training incident in which an umpire with whom he was arguing threatened to throw him out of a game there. "You can't throw me out of this ballpark," protested Lopez, "This is my ballpark - Al Lopez Field!" The umpire ejected him anyway, causing Lopez to exclaim, "He threw me out of my own ballpark!"
Lopez retired to the White Sox front office after the 1965 season, but returned to manage parts of the 1968 and 1969 seasons after manager Eddie Stanky was fired. When Lopez retired for good due to health concerns 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 1949 and 1964 inclusive. His 840 wins with the White Sox still rank second in franchise history, behind Jimmy Dykes (899).
After baseball 
Lopez returned to Tampa upon retirement. As the first major league player and manager from the community, he was often mentioned as an inspiration by other baseball figures from the area and was considered one of Tampa's "legends" and most honored citizens.
When aging Al Lopez Field was razed in 1989, Horizon Park, a city park a few blocks north of the old ballpark site, was renamed Al Lopez Park and a statue of him was dedicated there. As a renowned alumnus, the athletic center at Jesuit High School, which is located across the street from Al Lopez Park, was also dedicated to him. And when the Tampa Bay area finally gained its own major league franchise in 1998 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Lopez was asked to throw the ceremonial first pitch before their inaugural game.
Lopez died in Tampa at the age of 97 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 led them to the World Series in 1959. He had been hospitalized for a heart attack, suffered two days earlier at his son's home. 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.
- Hillsborough: He was 'pride of Tampa Latinos'
- Al Lopez: He was 'pride of Tampa Latinos'
- Al Lopez, A Legend: From The Tampa Tribune
- Paul Mueller, Bay News 9, Al Lopez's Ybor City home inches towards new location, May 16, 2013 accessed May 16, 2013
- St. Petersburg Times - Google News Archive Search
- St. Petersburg Times - Google News Archive Search
- Al Lopez Managerial Record - Baseball-Reference.com
- Hall of Famer Lopez passes at 97 | MLB.com: News
- The Tiger Tradition
- Al Lopez at the Baseball Hall of Fame
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Al Lopez managerial career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- Al Lopez at Find a Grave
- Al Lopez, A Legend: The Tampa Tribune
- "Hall of Fame manager Al Lopez dies at 97" - Associated Press, October 30, 2005
- "Al Lopez Dies" - Tampa Tribune, October 30, 2005
- Al Lopez chronology - Tampa Tribune