Félix Mantilla (baseball)
|Infielder / Outfielder|
July 29, 1934 |
Isabela, Puerto Rico
|June 21, 1956, for the Milwaukee Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 2, 1966, for the Houston Astros|
|Runs batted in||330|
|Career highlights and awards|
Félix Mantilla Lamela (born July 29, 1934 in Isabela, Puerto Rico) is a former Major League Baseball player. In his 11-year career, Mantilla played for the Milwaukee Braves (1956–61), New York Mets (1962), Boston Red Sox (1963–65) and Houston Astros (1966). An infielder/outfielder, he played second base the majority of his career (326 games). He also played shortstop (180 games), third base (143), the outfield (156) and, in the latter part of his career, first base (16). He batted and threw right-handed.
Mantilla and two other black players joined the Jacksonville Braves of the Class-A South Atlantic League in 1953. This was one of the first two integrated baseball teams in the Southern United States. During this time Mantilla was the roommate of Hank Aaron. Mantilla and Aaron were both called up to the major leagues, playing for the Milwaukee Braves. Both were on the team when they won the World Series title in 1957. He was selected by the New York Mets in the expansion draft and became their most regular third baseman in 1962, establishing career highs in batting average, home runs and RBI (.275, 11 and 59 respectively). At the end of the season he was traded to the Red Sox for three players, two of whom were Pumpsie Green and Tracy Stallard.
Mantilla’s numbers improved dramatically in the hitter-friendly Fenway Park: he hit .315 in 66 games in 1963, hit .289 with 30 home runs in 1964 (five fewer than he had hit in his career prior to that season), and set a career high with 92 RBIs in 1965. During this latter year, he was also named to the American League All-Star team for the only time in his career.
Prior to the start of the 1966 season, the Red Sox traded Mantilla to the Houston Astros for Eddie Kasko. He spent that year as a utility player before being released on November 28. The Chicago Cubs signed Mantilla as a free agent before the start of the 1967 season; however, during spring training he suffered an Achilles tendon injury that required surgery. He never played a game for them and was released on July 6. He went to spring training with the Cubs in 1968 as a non-roster player; at the end of camp the Cubs reportedly signed him to a minor league contract, but he never appeared in another professional game.
A lifetime .261 hitter, Mantilla compiled 89 home runs with 330 runs batted in.
On May 26, 1959, in the 13th inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee County Stadium, Mantilla ruined Harvey Haddix's bid for a perfect game. Leading off the inning, he hit a ground ball to third baseman Don Hoak, whose throw to first pulled Rocky Nelson off the bag for an error. (Mantilla had not even been in the starting lineup; he entered the game in the 11th after Del Rice had pinch-hit for Johnny O'Brien.) Mantilla was sacrificed to second by Eddie Mathews, followed by an intentional walk to Hank Aaron. The following batter, Joe Adcock, hit one over the right-center field wall, just beyond Bill Virdon's outstretched glove, for an apparent 3–0 victory. Mantilla scored the winning run, but Aaron, thinking the ball was still in play and that the game ended when Mantilla scored the winning run, rounded second and then headed for the dugout. Adcock, running out his home run, passed Aaron on the bases; as a result, the ruling from National League president Warren Giles was that Adcock's hit was a double (not a home run), only Mantilla's run counted and the final score was 1–0.
- Banks, Kerry (2010). Baseball’s Top 100: The Game’s Greatest Records. Vancouver, BC: Greystone Books. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-55365-507-7.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference