Sunday, 27 July 2014


                           BLACK                 SOCIAL                HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Manuel De Jesus Sanguillén Magan, better known as Manny Sanguillén or "Sangy" (born March 21, 1944 in Colón, Panama), is a former professional baseball player who was a catcher in the Major Leagues.[1] He was named to the All-Star team three times, in 19711972, and 1975.[1] He played primarily for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but also for the Oakland Athletics in 1977. Sanguillen's lifetime batting average of .296 is the fourth highest by a catcher since World War II, and tenth highest for catchers in Major League Baseball history.[2]

Major League career

Although he was often overshadowed by his contemporary, Johnny Bench, Sanguillén was considered one of the best catchers in Major League baseball in the early 1970s.[3][4] While he didn't possess Bench's power hitting ability, Sanguillen hit for a higher batting average.[3][5] He was an integral member of the Pirates teams that won three consecutive National League Eastern Division pennantsbetween 1970 and 1972, and a World Series victory in 1971.[5] Sanguillen was also a fast baserunner for a catcher and was a good defensive player with a strong throwing arm.[6]
Sanguillen was notorious for being a "bad-ball" hitter.[5] Most pitchers will try to strike out an aggressive, free-swinging hitter by forcing him to swing at pitches outside the strike zone when he has two strikes on him. Sanguillen often irritated opposing pitchers and managers by hitting bad pitches for base hits.[5] He rarely walked, and was the only player since 1900 with at least six straight seasons with 475 plate appearances and fewer than 22 walks.[citation needed] This was also why, in spite of his high batting average, his on-base percentage was lower than the league average over his career.[citation needed]
After playing for three years in the minor leagues, Sanguillen joined the Pirates in 1967, playing in 30 games.[1] He played another season in the minor leagues in 1968, before returning to the Major Leagues in 1969. He replaced Jerry May as the Pirates starting catcher and posted a .303 batting average.[1] He solidified his reputation as one of the top hitting catchers in baseball by hitting for a .325 batting average in 1970, finishing third in the National League batting championship behind Rico Carty and Joe Torre.[7]
Sanguillen was a valuable member of the world champion 1971 Pirates. He had his best year in terms of offensive production by hitting for a .319 batting average, while hitting 7 home runs and 81 runs batted in.[1] He also had his best year defensively, finishing third among National League catchers in games caught (135), second in base runners caught stealing (37), caught stealing percentage (51.4%), fielding percentage (.994) and first in assists (72).[8] The Pirates won the National League Eastern Division pennant by 7 games over the St. Louis Cardinals, then defeated the San Francisco Giants in the 1971 National League Championship Series, before winning the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.[9][10][11] In the seven-game series, Sanguillen had a .379 batting average with 11 hits, second only to the 12 hits byRoberto Clemente.[11][12]
After the tragic death of Roberto Clemente before the 1973 season, the Pirates slated Sanguillen to take Clemente's place in right field.[13][14] By mid-June, it was apparent that Sanguillen couldn't adapt to playing the outfield and he was moved back to the catcher's position.[14] Sanguillen had another strong year in 1975, when he posted a .328 batting average, third in the National League batting championship behind Bill Madlock and Ted Simmons.[15] In 1977, Sanguillen was traded by the Pirates to the Oakland Athletics for the services of then-A's manager Chuck Tanner and $100,000 as a settlement of Tanner's contract with the A's.[16]
After one season with the A's, Sanguillen was traded back to the Pirates for Miguel Diloné and Elías Sosa.[16] He played in only 85 games in 1978, mostly as a first baseman as Ed Ott and Duffy Dyer platooned at the catcher's position.[17] His playing time diminished further in 1979, playing in only 56 games, although he contributed a two-out, game-winningsingle and RBI for the Pirates in Game 2 of the 1979 World Series against the Orioles.[12][18] Sanguillen would retire after the 1980 season.[1]
Sanguillen was close to former teammate Roberto Clemente. Sanguillen had been playing winter baseball with the San Juan Senators and had spoken to Clemente about accompanying him on the relief mission to Nicaragua. As fate would have it, Sanguillen would have been on the ill-fated flight that killed Clemente, but he was running late to catch the flight because he had misplaced his car keys. Sanguillen learned of the crash and was devastated. Against the advice of Pirates General Manager Joe Brown, Sanguillen insisted on helping to recover the bodies of those who died in the crash. The sight of many sharks swimming in the water did not stop Sanguillen. As Pirates teammate Steve Blasstold The Sporting News, "Manny dove from dawn till midnight." So focused on his task, Sanguillen missed the January 4th memorial service attended by his Pirate teammates.[19]

Career statistics

In a 13-year career, Sanguillen played in 1,448 games, accumulating 1,500 hits in 5,062 at bats for a .296 career batting average, along with 65 home runs and 585 runs batted in.[1] He ended his career with a .986 fielding percentage.[1] Sanguillen was the Pirates' catcher on September 20, 1969 when Bob Moose pitched a no-hitter.[20] Along with his three All-Star Game appearances, he was a member of two world championship winning teams in 1971 and 1979, and finished in eighth place in the 1971 Most Valuable Player Award balloting results.[21] Sanguillen edged out Johnny Bench on The Sporting News National League All-Star Team in 1971, the only time between 1967 and 1975 that Bench was not selected.[22] He was also a close friend of the late Roberto Clemente.[14] Sanguillen was the only member of the Pirates not to attend Clemente's funeral, choosing instead to dive the waters where Clemente's plane had crashed in a futile effort to find his friend.[14]

Sanguillen currently operates "Manny's BBQ", a barbecue-style concession stand at the Pirates' current home, PNC Park. He sits in a chair greeting fans in line to buy food, signing autographs and posing for photos.