Ken Suarez

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Ken Suarez
Catcher
Born: (1943-04-14) April 14, 1943 (age 71)
Tampa, Florida
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 12, 1966 for the Kansas City Athletics
Last MLB appearance
September 22, 1973 for the Texas Rangers
Career statistics
Batting average .227
Home runs 5
Runs batted in 60
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • First-team All-America (1964)
  • FSU Hall of Fame (2005)[1]
Ken Suarez
Medal record
Men's baseball
Competitor for  United States
1964 Summer Olympics Tokyo, Japan

Kenneth Raymond Suarez (Born April 12, 1943) is a former Major League Baseball catcher. The 5'9", 175 lb. right-handed hitter is best remembered for a suit he filed against the Texas Rangers in which he claimed that his February 12, 1974 trade to the Cleveland Indians was in retaliation for his having filed for arbitration.[2] Suarez never reported to camp for the Indians, retiring at just thirty years old, instead.

Seminoles[edit]

Suarez was born in Tampa, Florida, and attended Jesuit High School. As well as being the catcher for the Jesuit Tigers, Suarez played for West Tampa's American Legion team with Lou Piniella and Tony La Russa.[3]

Suarez attended Florida State University, and took over catching duties for the Seminoles baseball team as a sophomore in 1963. After leading his team to the College World Series in 1963, Suarez erupted his junior year. He batted .404 with 44 hits, six home runs, thirty runs batted in, 25 runs scored and 21 walks, all tops on his team. He was named a 1964 First Team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association, and was selected to the 1964 U.S. Olympic Baseball Team.[4] After which, he signed with the Kansas City Athletics as an amateur free agent.[5]

Kansas City A's[edit]

Suarez's first professional hit was a grand slam while playing for the Lewiston Broncs in 1965.[6] That season, he batted .253 with thirteen home runs and twenty RBIs while providing excellent defense for the Broncs and Double-A Birmingham Barons to earn an invitation to spring training in 1966. He won the starting job out of camp,[7] but lost the job to Phil Roof after batting just .185 with two RBI through May. He hung around at the major league level through the All-Star break before being optioned to Double-A Mobile.

An injury to Roof early in the 1967 season once again earned Suarez a promotion to starting catcher. He hit his first major league home run in his first start of the season against Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers.[8] He batted .235 with two home runs and four RBI in eight games filling in for Roof. Once Roof returned, Suarez remained with the club as a back-up catcher. After the season, he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 1967 Rule V draft.

Cleveland Indians[edit]

Suarez did not receive much playing time in Cleveland, appearing in only seventeen games in 1968, two of which were out of his natural position in extra inning affairs. He had just one hit in ten at-bats. He split 1969 between the Indians and the Pacific Coast League Portland Beavers, batting .294 with nine RBIs in 85 major league at-bats. He spent all of 1970 in the minors with the Wichita Aeros, and batted .301, marking the only time he batted over .300 in his professional career. Given a more regular role in 1971, Suarez appeared in 50 games for the Indians, hitting only .203 in 123 at-bats.

Texas Rangers[edit]

On December 2, 1971, he was traded to the Rangers with Roy Foster, Rich Hand, and Mike Paul for Del Unser, Denny Riddleberger, Terry Ley and Gary Jones.[9] He spent most of his first season with the Rangers as the third string catcher before being reassigned to the Double-A Denver Bears. He platooned with Dick Billings behind the plate in 1973, and produced a .248 batting average while establishing himself as one of the better fielding catchers in the American League. On June 16, he broke up a Jim Palmer perfect game. Palmer had retired the first 25 batters, however Suarez singled with one out in the ninth inning.[10]

Suarez earned $20,000 in 1973 for the Rangers, and felt he was due for a raise. On February 7, 1974, he met with Rangers General Manager Dan O'Brien to negotiate a new contract. Failing to reach an agreement, he became the first player on the team to submit a contract to arbitration.[11] Five days later, he was traded back to the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Leo Cárdenas.

Retirement[edit]

Suarez immediately filed a formal grievance with the Major League Baseball Players Association asking that the trade be voided. He did not report to camp with the Indians, threatening to retire instead.

He made good on his threat, never appearing in a game for the Indians. Regardless, he was traded on September 12, 1974 to the California Angels with Rusty Torres for Frank Robinson.

Overall, Suarez hit .227 with five home runs and 60 RBI in 295 games (661 at-bats). He walked 99 times and struck out 97 times. After baseball, Suarez and his wife stayed in Fort Worth, Texas. He has worked in various fields, including aviation, radio and now agriculture.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ken Suarez". Seminoles.com. Class of 2005. 
  2. ^ "Ken Suarez Files Suit". Bangor Daily News. March 1, 1974. 
  3. ^ Rob Brannon (November 21, 2003). "Fields named for major-leaguer". St. Petersburg Times. 
  4. ^ "Ken Suarez". NoleFan.org. 
  5. ^ "Tampan Ken Suarez Signs with Athletics". St. Petersburg Times. November 19, 1964. 
  6. ^ "Ken Suarez". BaseballLibrary.com. 
  7. ^ Jac Khand (April 8, 1966). "Ten or More Rookies in Opening Day Line-ups". The Press-Courier. 
  8. ^ "Kansas City Athletics 11, Detroit Tigers 7". Baseball-Reference.com. April 16, 1967. 
  9. ^ "Rangers in Double Trade". The Milwaukee Journal. December 2, 1971. 
  10. ^ "Baltimore Orioles 9, Texas Rangers 1". Baseball-Reference.com. June 16, 1973. 
  11. ^ "Sports in Brief". Bangor Daily News. February 8, 1974. 

External links[edit]