Preston Gómez

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Preston Gomez
Infielder/Manager
Born: (1923-04-20)April 20, 1923
Central Preston, Cuba
Died: January 13, 2009(2009-01-13) (aged 85)
Fullerton, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 5, 1944 for the Washington Senators
Last MLB appearance
August 12, 1944 for the Washington Senators
Career statistics
Batting average .286
Home runs 0
Runs batted in 2
Teams

As Player

As Manager

Preston Gómez (April 20, 1923 – January 13, 2009) was a Cuban-born infielder, manager, coach and front-office official in Major League Baseball best known for managing three major league clubs: the San Diego Padres (1969–72), Houston Astros (1974–75) and Chicago Cubs (1980). He was born Pedro Gómez Martinez in Preston, Cuba, and was given his nickname in U.S. professional baseball from his birthplace.[1]

Playing career[edit]

A right-handed batter and thrower, Gómez played eight major league games as a shortstop and second baseman for the 1944 Washington Senators, hitting .286 in seven at bats with two runs batted in.

Minor leagues[edit]

He spent the next two decades in minor league baseball, playing and then, from the mid-1950s onward, managing in the farm systems of the Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. His 1959 Havana Sugar Kings were champion of the International League and won the Junior World Series.

Managerial career[edit]

In 1965, Gómez became third-base coach of the Dodgers, serving through 1968 and two National League pennants and one World Series title. When Dodger vice president Buzzie Bavasi became president and part-owner of the expansion Padres, he named Gómez the first skipper in the team's major league history. But, like most expansion teams, the Padres struggled, losing 110 games in 1969, 99 in 1970 and 100 more in 1971, finishing last in the NL West Division each season. After 11 games and seven more defeats in 1972, Gómez was fired and replaced by Don Zimmer.

He returned to baseball the following season as a coach under Leo Durocher for the Houston Astros, and succeeded to the manager's post in 1974. That season, the Astros posted an 81–81 record — Gómez' only .500 or better season as a big league manager. But in 1975, when they were last in the NL West after 127 games, Gómez was released in favor of Bill Virdon. Once again, Gómez took to the coaching lines, for the St. Louis Cardinals and then back to the Dodgers, where he assisted Tommy Lasorda and coached in two more World Series — 1977 and 1978.

The exposure led to one last major league managing job, with the 1980 Cubs — but again Gómez met with frustration. The last-place Cubs dropped 52 of their first 90 games, and Gómez was fired again, to be replaced by Joey Amalfitano. His career managing record, over seven years, was 346 wins, 529 losses (.395) and four last-place finishes.

Highly respected, Gómez remained in baseball from 1981 into the 2008 season as a coach, special assignments scout and assistant to the general manager of the Angels.

Ongoing no-hitters aborted[edit]

On two occasions, Gómez pinch-hit for pitchers who had pitched no-hitters through eight innings. He did this on July 21, 1970, with the Padres' Clay Kirby [2] and on September 4, 1974, with the Astros' Don Wilson.[3] Both pitchers were losing their respective games at the time they were pulled. In both cases, the hitting strategy failed, and the games were ultimately lost.

Death[edit]

Gómez sustained major head injuries when he was struck by a vehicle at a Blythe, California, gas station on March 26, 2008. The accident occurred while Gómez was on his way home to Chino Hills, California, from the Angels' spring training in Arizona. He died from his injuries on January 13, 2009, in Fullerton, California, aged 85.

The 2009 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim honored Gómez' memory with a uniform patch in the shape of a black diamond with the name "Preston" written in white.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spink, C.C. Johnson, pub., The 1967 Official Baseball Register. St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1967
  2. ^ July 21, 1970 New York Mets at San Diego Padres Play and Box Score
  3. ^ September 4, 1974, Cincinnati Reds at Houston Astros Play
  4. ^ Gomez family to throw first pitch.

External links[edit]