Mike González (catcher)
|Catcher / Manager|
September 24, 1890|
|Died: February 19, 1977
|September 28, 1912, for the Boston Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 7, 1932, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||263|
|Career highlights and awards|
Miguel Angel González Cordero (September 24, 1890 – February 19, 1977) was a Cuban catcher, coach and interim manager in American Major League Baseball during the first half of the 20th century. Along with Adolfo Luque, González was one of the first Cubans or Latin Americans to have a long off-field career in the U.S. Major Leagues.
In the U.S.: catcher, coach and manager
González, a right-handed-hitting catcher, made his National League debut with the 1912 Boston Braves, playing only one game. During that time he played "Negro baseball" with integrated teams from Cuba, the Cuban Stars in 1911, 1912 and 1914; the Long Branch Cubans in 1913. During his organized baseball career he appeared with the New York Lincoln Giants in 1916 (Riley, 326).
González returned to the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds sometime in 1914 and went on to play 16 more seasons (1914–21; 1924–29; 1931–32) with the St. Louis Cardinals (in three separate stints), New York Giants and Chicago Cubs, batting .253 in 1,042 games. He appeared in one World Series – 1929 with the Cubs – and was hitless in his only at-bat.
In 1933, he became a coach for the Cardinals' American Association farm club, the Columbus Red Birds, and joined the St. Louis coaching staff in 1934 under manager Frankie Frisch. It was the year of the "Gashouse Gang", the hard-playing Cardinal team that stormed to the NL pennant and a seven-game Fall Classic triumph over the Detroit Tigers.
González coached under Frisch until September 14, 1938, when Frisch was fired. González then took the helm for the final 16 games of the season, leading the Cardinals to an 8–8 record. He resumed his coaching role under Ray Blades the following season, but again became the Cards' acting pilot on June 7, 1940, handling the team until June 10, when Blades' permanent successor, Billy Southworth, arrived from Rochester. Overall, González' big-league managing record was nine wins and 13 defeats (.409).
González continued on the Cardinals' coaching lines through 1946. In the bottom of the eighth inning of his final game, the seventh and deciding contest of the 1946 World Series, Gonzalez was coaching at third base when Enos Slaughter raced home from first base on a double by Harry Walker. "Slaughter's Mad Dash" scored the winning run and earned the Cardinals the world championship. Although films taken of the play appear to show González waving Slaughter in, other accounts report that Slaughter ignored the coach's stop sign and took home on his own initiative.
González is credited with contributing a lasting piece of baseball terminology. Asked by the Cardinals to scout a winter league player, González judged that the player was outstanding defensively but a liability as a batter. He wired back a four-word scouting report: "Good field, no hit." That phrase is still in use today.
In Cuban baseball: star player and manager, and club owner
González debuted in 1910 as a shortstop for the Fé club. He was a part-time infielder his first three seasons before switching to catcher and gaining a full-time roster spot with Habana in the winter of 1913. He hit .313 in 1918–1919, .296 in 1927–28, and led the league in 1932–33 with an average of .432.
In 1914–15 he became Habana's playing manager and led the team to a championship. It was the first of 13 championships he won at the helm of the team (the others were in 1918–19, 1920–21, 1921–22, 1926–27, 1927–28, 1928–29, 1940–41, 1943–44, 1947–48, 1950–51, 1951–52, and 1952–53). Cuban baseball historian Jorge Figueredo calls his 1927–28 Habana team, which included Jud Wilson, Martín Dihigo, Chino Smith, Alejandro Oms, Ramón Herrera, and Manuel Cueto, "probably the best they ever had in their illustrious history."
After 1946: 'Ineligible' to return to U.S. organized baseball
During the 1946 season, the Mexican League, then an insurgent circuit outside the control of "organized baseball", raided Major League teams — notably the Cardinals, Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers — for playing talent, signing Max Lanier, Lou Klein and Fred Martin away from the Cardinals alone. Commissioner of Baseball Happy Chandler responded by banning the "jumping" players for five years, and ruling that any player who competed with or against the jumpers, and any team that employed those banned players, would also lose their professional baseball eligibility.
However, the 1946–47 Cuban Winter League, including González' Habana club, hired some of the banned players in defiance of Chandler's edict. González resigned from the champion Cardinals' coaching staff in protest, and he was ruled ineligible from working in U.S. professional baseball as a result. Chandler's ruling was sharply criticized by the Cuban media — while Martin was a star pitcher for Habana in 1946–47. Although Cuban winter league and U.S. baseball officials eventually reached a compromise, and the jumping players were reinstated in 1949, González never returned to the Cardinals or the U.S. Major or minor leagues.
González retired as Habana's League manager after the 1952–53 season and in retirement remained in his native country. After the Cuban Revolution brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959, and the ensuing chill in relations between Cuba and the U.S., González was cut off from his old friends and associates in American baseball. He died in Havana at age 86 in 1977.
- Figueredo 2003, pp. 486, 509.
- Figueredo 2003, pp. 86, 92, 100, 104, 128, 175, 201.
- Figueredo 2003, pp. 112, 125, 137, 141–142, 167–168, 174, 178, 236, 251–252, 292, 339–340, 352–353, 363.
- Marshall, William (1999). Baseball's Pivotal Era, 1945–1951. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2041-1.
- Figueredo, Jorge S. (2003), Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878–1961, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, ISBN 0-7864-1250-X.
- Riley, James A. (2002). The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. 2nd edition. New York: Carroll & Graf Publ. ISBN 0-7867-0959-6.
- Spink, J.G. Taylor, ed. The Baseball Register, 1946 edition. St. Louis: C.C. Spink and Son.