If you had your eye on the first game of the Mets’ doubleheader against the Expos on September 14, 1971, it might not have lasted long. The Mets were in the middle of his 4th-place finish, nearly ending the season, but Montreal finished another 11 1/2 games behind New York. Nolan Ryan was still a mystery to the Mets — The Daily News said, “His consistent failure to live up to his tremendous potential fascinated, baffled and baffled his employers. innings en route to a 12-1 loss.
So when Francisco “Paquin” Estrada, a 23-year-old catcher from Navojoa, Mexico, replaced starter Jerry Grote at the top of the sixth, few fans were probably still listening. I guess. He gave up a passed ball, but it yielded nothing and singled in the bottom of the seventh. He got one more at-bat and hit a ground ball in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
Estrada’s arrival arrived without much fanfare and ended without further ado – he became the first Mexican-born player to be caught in the big leagues. 500, which was also Estrada’s last major league at-bat.
Estrada may be a footnote in history for MLB fans, but he’s a Hall of Famer in his home country.
“He’s one of the best in the history of Mexican baseball,” said historian Horacio Ybarra Alvarez of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame. Salon de la Fama del Beisbol Mexicano), told MLB.com via Zoom. “Mexico has a summer league and a winter league and he holds the record in both.”
Estrada only appeared in one major league game, but it certainly wasn’t what many expected from a player with so much talent. “Paquin” joined the legendary Diablos Rojos del He Mexico in 1966 when he was only 18 and by 1970 had become a full-fledged superstar. 303 with 18 home runs, 24 doubles, and he even had 11 triples. (The last major catcher in his league to have this many hits? is his 1966 when Tim McCarver hit his 13th triple.)
“There were big expectations,” Alvarez said. “He had a spectacular season with Diablos Rojos in the Mexican League, which opened the eyes of scouts and brought him to the big leagues. There were a lot of hopes, it was expected that he would be such a fierce big player in Mexico. Grote started from that day onwards.
Sporting News reported that Diablos sent Estrada to spring training with the Yankees before the 1970 season, “observing training at major league camp” and giving Estrada his first taste of the American game. According to columnist Red Smith, what hampered him from training camp with the Yankees was that he spoke English. Estrada arrived late at the Mets training camp because he got lost on the way.
“By the time he made it to the big leagues, there were only 19 Mexicans in history who played in the majors,” Alvarez said. “At the time, when I asked the Mexican players, it was because they couldn’t speak English. The Mets had a very good catcher in Jerry Grote. Not speaking English hurt his chances. maybe.”
After the 1971 season ended, Estrada was included in one of the most memorable trades of all time. He was one of the prospects included in the Mets’ trade of Jim Fregosi to Nolan Ryan’s Angels. Ryan became a star in California, but Estrada played only 21 games for the Angels’ Triple-A farm before being traded to Baltimore. The following year he was sent to the Cubs, but didn’t see the big leagues along the way.
His days in baseball were over, but Estrada’s legend was just beginning. Estrada, now 26, returned to Mexico in 1974, where he played seven seasons in Puebla before joining Campeche from 1981 to 1984. In his 1985, when Estrada was 37 years old, the age at which almost all catchers finish their careers. He then became a player-manager for the next decade, catching “23 to 88 games in one season,” as reported in his SABR biography by Rory Costello.
When he finally put down his catcher’s gear at the end of the 1994 season, Estrada had caught a staggering 2,415 games and had 84 HRs, 923 RBIs and 2,089 hits in the Mexican League. He also played 30 more seasons in the Winter League, adding another 1,538 games, 1,269 hits, 74 home runs, and 514 RBI.
By comparison, Ivan Rodriguez holds the major league record with 2,427 game catches, and Japanese legend Katsuya Nomura, who hit 657 home runs in NPB, has an astronomical 3,017 game catches.it’s still mostly 1,000 A game less than Estrada piled up behind a plate.
Despite appearing in nearly 4,000 games at bat, he is perhaps best known as a manager, leading his team to 12 titles and a record winning streak of over 800 wins in the Mexican Pacific League. He also played for the World Baseball He Classic team in 2006, where he was the manager of the He Mexico team and was due to be the skipper in 2017, but went missing due to poor health and died in 2019.
“His achievements have really increased his profile as a manager,” Alvarez said. “He was a very good player and a very good manager. He played 30 years in the Winter League and 26 years in the Summer League. , and won three championships in the summer.He was seen as a very good man.”
Estrada’s career may be a fun MLB fact to share at your next cocktail party, but he should be remembered more for his stature in international games and a record that may never be broken. am.
“He’s kind of like our Johnny Bench,” Alvarez said. Only played one game, but now it’s like a joke.He’s the Mexican with the best batting average of all time.”
Thanks to Ricardo Montes de Oca for translation assistance.