|Born: Pedro Gómez Martínez|
April 20, 1923
Central Preston, Oriente Province, Cuba
|Died: January 13, 2009 (aged 85)|
|May 5, 1944, for the Washington Senators|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 12, 1944, for the Washington Senators|
|Runs batted in||2|
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 Martínez in Central Preston (now Guatemala), Cuba, and was given his nickname in U.S. professional baseball from his birthplace.
A right-handed batter and thrower, Gómez was listed as 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and 170 pounds (77 kg). He 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.
He spent the next two decades in minor league baseball, as a player between 1944 and 1955, and then as manager of the Diablos Rojos del México, the "Mexico City Reds," in 1957 and 1958. He then managed 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; the following season, his Spokane Indians won 91 games and the 1960 Pacific Coast League championship.
Managerial and coaching career
San Diego Padres
When Dodger executive 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 in August 1968. 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 April 26 and replaced by Don Zimmer. With the Padres, he had a record of 180 wins and 316 losses.
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, the Astros were staggered by the accidental off-season death of starting pitcher Don Wilson. They began the year by losing 16 of their 24 April games, and were still in last place in the NL West after 127 games (at 47–80) on August 18. On that day, Gómez was released in favor of Bill Virdon. As the Astros' pilot, he finished with a record of 128 wins and 161 losses. Once again, Gómez took to the coaching lines, for the St. Louis Cardinals (1976) and then back to the Dodgers (1977–79), where he assisted Tommy Lasorda for three seasons and coached in two more World Series — 1977 and 1978.
Chicago Cubs and California Angels
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 on July 23 Gómez was fired again, to be replaced by Joey Amalfitano. His career managing record, over seven years, was 346 wins, 529 losses (.395) with four last-place finishes.
Highly respected, Gómez remained in baseball as third-base coach (1981–84) of the California Angels, then served the Angels' organization as a special assignments scout and assistant to the general manager from 1985 until his death.
Ongoing no-hitters aborted
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 and on September 4, 1974, with the Astros' Wilson. 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.
|San Diego Padres||1969||1972||180||316||.363|
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.
- Spink, C.C. Johnson, pub., The 1967 Official Baseball Register. St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1967
- "Preston Gómez". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
- July 21, 1970 New York Mets at San Diego Padres Play and Box Score
- September 4, 1974, Cincinnati Reds at Houston Astros Play
- Gomez family to throw first pitch.