August 9, 1930 |
|April 13, 1955, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 4, 1964, for the Boston Red Sox|
|Runs batted in||202|
Román Mejías Gómez (born August 9, 1930 in Abreus, Cuba) is a former professional baseball player who was an outfielder in the Major Leagues in 1955 and from 1957–1964 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Colt .45s and Boston Red Sox. He also played one season in Japan, in 1966, for the Sankei Atoms. Mejías threw and batted right-handed; he stood 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and weighed 180 pounds (82 kg).
Major League career
Mejías began his pro career in the Pirates' farm system in 1953. He spent his entire rookie campaign of 1955 on the Pittsburgh roster, appearing in 71 games, 39 as a starting outfielder. But he batted only .216 with three home runs and was sent to the top level of minor league baseball for all of 1956 and part of 1957. Recalled by the Pirates in late May 1957, Mejías backed up the regular Pittsburgh outfield (left fielder Bob Skinner, center fielder Bill Virdon and right fielder Roberto Clemente), hitting a more robust .275. In 1958 and 1959, he was the Bucs' fourth outfielder, hitting 3 home runs in a game against San Francisco in 1958, but then was assigned to Triple-A for most of 1960 and 1961, appearing in only seven total games and going hitless in two at bats.
Houston Colt .45s
On October 10, 1961, he was selected in the 11th round by Houston in the 1961 National League expansion draft, and was the starting right fielder in the Colt .45s' first Major League game on April 10, 1962. Batting third in Houston's lineup, Mejías had three hits in five at bats, with three runs scored and six runs batted in. He hit the first home run in Houston's Major League history, a three-run bomb off Don Cardwell in the third inning, and then followed with another three-run shot in the eighth off relief pitcher Al Lary, as the Colt .45s routed the visiting Chicago Cubs, 11–2. Mejías held the Colts' starting right fielder job all season, appearing in a career-high 146 games, and led Houston in hits (162), home runs (24), runs batted in (76). batting average (.286), stolen bases (12) and slugging percentage (.485).
Boston Red Sox
But on November 26, he was traded to the Red Sox for defending American League batting champion Pete Runnels. In 1963, Mejías was Boston's opening day center fielder, but got off to a horrific start in his new league, batting only .150 in 113 at bats during April and May. He didn't get above .200 until June 22, and by then the often-injured Gary Geiger had taken over as the Bosox' center fielder. Mejías recovered to bat .227 with 11 home runs, but his days as a regular outfielder were over. He was a reserve on the 1964 Red Sox, playing behind left fielder Tony Conigliaro (a 19-year-old rookie), center fielder Carl Yastrzemski and right fielder Lee Thomas. He then was assigned outright to the Red Sox' Triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs affiliate, where he was a playing coach in 1965 before decamping for Japan, where he batted .288 with no home runs in 30 games in 1966, his last professional season.