Minnie Rojas

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Minnie Rojas
Pitcher
Born: (1933-11-26)November 26, 1933
Remidios, Villa Clara, Cuba
Died: March 23, 2002(2002-03-23) (aged 68)
Los Angeles, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 30, 1966 for the California Angels
Last MLB appearance
July 24, 1968 for the California Angels
Career statistics
Win-loss record 23-16
Earned run average 3.00
Saves 43
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Led AL in saves (27 in 1967)
AL Fireman of the Year (1967)

Minervino Alejandro "Minnie" Rojas Landin (November 26, 1933 – March 24, 2002) was a relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the California Angels from 1966 through 1968. Rojas batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Remedios, Villa Clara, Cuba.

Baseball career[edit]

Minor leagues / Mexican League[edit]

Rojas began playing baseball as a youth in Cuba. After a year of compulsory military service, he left his native country to play semi-pro baseball in Mexico.[1] In 1960, he signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants. The Giants did not promote him to the majors after 4 years in their minor league system, so Rojas signed a free agent contract with the independent Jalisco Charros of the Mexican League in 1964.

In 1965, Rojas won 21 games as a starting pitcher for Jalisco, attracting the attention of the California Angels. The Angels bought his contract for $2500 and sent him to their AAA affiliate, the Seattle Rainiers, to begin the 1966 season.[2][3]

California Angels[edit]

Rojas made his major league debut on May 30, 1966 when he started a game against the Cleveland Indians and earned the win.[4] Rojas would only make one additional start in the majors, instead becoming an effective bullpen arm. He appeared in 47 games and earned 10 saves as a 32-year old rookie.

In 1967, Rojas became the Angels' closer and led the American League with 27 saves, setting a franchise record that wasn't broken until Donnie Moore collected 31 saves in 1985. Rojas also won 12 games in relief that year and was a major reason that the Angels were surprising contenders for the American League pennant until mid-September. He was named the American League's Fireman of the Year and was 24th in the voting for American League MVP.

During the 1968 season, Rojas developed calcium deposits and tendonitis in his elbow, probably due to overwork.[1][5] He was placed on the disabled list in late July and was eventually shut down for the 1968 season without throwing another pitch.

Rojas attempted to resume his career in 1969 and threw 18 innings of minor league ball, but his "arm trouble" continued, and he retired from baseball at the age of 35.[6]

Scouting report[edit]

Rojas' pitching repertoire consisted mainly of breaking balls, changeups, and a sinking fastball. "He's got three pitches," one opposing batter commented, "slow, slower, and 'come and get it'." [7] Despite his lack of a high-velocity pitch, Rojas was effective during his short MLB career due to excellent command. He posted a 23–16 record with a 3.00 ERA and 43 saves in 157 appearances, allowing only 45 unintentional walks in 261 innings over parts of three seasons.[8]

Accident[edit]

Around midnight on March 31, 1970, the Rojas family's station wagon was involved in a serious hit and run auto accident near Key Largo on the Overseas Highway after a fishing trip in the Florida Keys.[9] Rojas' spinal cord was damaged, leaving him partially paralyzed,[10] and his two young daughters, Lourdes and Barbara, were killed.[11] His wife, Maria, and his infant son survived.[12]

The Angels organization, led by team shortstop and Rojas' friend Jim Fregosi, started a fund to help Rojas and his surviving family. The team also held "Minnie Rojas Day" during a spring training exhibition game at Anaheim Stadium in March 1971 and donated the proceeds to the Rojas family.[13] Through intense physical therapy, Rojas eventually regained some use of his upper body, but he would not walk again[1][14]

Rojas died in Los Angeles, California on March 23, 2002, at the age of 68.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Windsor Star - Google News Archive Search
  2. ^ Tri City Herald - Google News Archive Search
  3. ^ Minnie Rojas Statistics and History - Baseball-Reference.com
  4. ^ Minnie Rojas 1966 Pitching Gamelogs - Baseball-Reference.com
  5. ^ Observer-Reporter - Google News Archive Search
  6. ^ Minnie Rojas Minor League Statistics & History - Baseball-Reference.com
  7. ^ Reading Eagle - Google News Archive Search
  8. ^ Minnie Rojas Statistics and History - Baseball-Reference.com
  9. ^ The Modesto Bee - Google News Archive Search
  10. ^ Weyler, John (April 23, 1995). "Relief Is Trivial Pursuit for Angels : Baseball: A brief look through history shows the team's bullpen has been, for the most part, less than effective over the years". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ The Press-Courier - Google News Archive Search
  12. ^ "Ex-Cal Angel Hospitalized". Eugene Register-Guard. 1970-04-02. 
  13. ^ The Press-Courier - Google News Archive Search
  14. ^ Herald-Journal - Google News Archive Search

Sources[edit]