Águilas del Zulia
| Águilas del Zulia|
|League:||Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional|
|Founding:||October 14, 1969|
|Stadium:||Estadio Luis Aparicio el Grande|
|1983/1984, 1988/1989, 1991/1992, 1992/1993, 1999/2000, 2016/2017|
|Serie del Caribe Titles:||2|
|Former Names:||Industriales de Valencia (1955-1968), Llaneros de Acarigua (1968-1969)|
|President:||Lucas Rincón Colmenares|
|General Manager:||Luis Rodolfo Machado Silva|
The Águilas del Zulia are a Venezuelan winter league team that plays in the Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional. They are one of the more popular teams in the league and the only regional team in the LVBP.
After the collapse of the Liga Occidental in 1963 the Estado Zulia was left without a professional baseball team. In the following years there were many efforts to bring baseball back to the state but the efforts were not realized until 1969 when the Águilas joined the LVBP. The two people behind the formation of the team were Luis Rodolfo Machado Bohórquez, who was the main shareholder of the Centauros de Maracaibo and Juan Antonio Yañez, formerly of the Patriotas de Venezuela.
Machado found a group of investors from the region to buy the Llaneros de Acarigua when, after the 1968/1969 season, the team was put up for sale by its owners after losing money for numerous years. Among the investors were Simón Bromberg, Rubén Darío Barboza, Gabriel Fernández, Edgardo Fuenmayor Arrieta, Guillermo Echeto La Roche, Sixto Márquez , José Trinidad Martínez, Douglas Mavárez Granadillo, Ernesto Montiel, Fernando Pérez Amado, Vinicio Pineda Gil, Alberto Plumacher, Antonio Quintero Parra, Lucas Rincón Colmenares, Heberto Rutilio Ríos, and Hugo Suárez Romero.
After receiving the approval of the Liga Central's President, Franklin White, and from the presidents of the league's five other teams, the team was formally acquired by Machado's group. The team was bought for a sum of 400,000 million bolivars. The news of the return of professional baseball to the state was celebrated in Zulia.
The team made its debut on October 14, 1969 at Estadio Barquisimeto versus the Cardenales de Lara. The Águilas lost the game 3 - 2 with Juan Quiroz pitching a complete game loss versus Pablo Torrealba who got the and Ken Sanders who came on in relief. On the following day the team played its first game at Estadio Luis Aparicio el Grande with a 6 - 5 victory.
The team's first years were troubled with the team posting losses in most years. However, the team survived these lean years and became one of the top teams in the 1980s and early 1990s with four titles.
The name of the Águilas (Eagles) are identifiably with the Zuliano region. It is said to be attributied to the Father Jose Manuel Ríos. At a game at Estadio Alejandro Borjes in Maracaibo in 1968, Luis Rodolfo Machado had asked Ríos if he had any suggestions for a baseball team's name, as Machado he had just bought the Llaneros de Portuguesa. Ríos saw the label of the then popular Zulia Beer, whose bottle's label carried a blue eagle on a yellow background and said that the Águilas would be a good name. Ríos remarked the Governmental Palace in Maracaibo is called El de las Águilas (The Place of the Eagles), and that many national flags and coats of arms have eagles on them. Thus the team's name beacame the Eagles.
For the first time in five seasons, the team qualified to the post-season. The performances of the rookie sensation and Diamondbacks prospect Carlos Gonzalez, led this team filled with rookies to a succesful year, finishing second in the western division and third in the playoff race to the finals.
Foreign pitchers Chris Begg, Heath Totten and Jeremy Cummings were the heads of the pitching rotation, while the offesive was commanded by a MVP season of Carlos Gonzalez and solid performances of Juan Pablo Camacho, Orlando Munoz, Humberto Quintero and the rookie of the year, Luis Bolivar.
Reliever Rich Garces reached his 100th save in the league and inspired many rookie pitchers in the team, who had for the first time former pitcher and team legend, Wilson Alvarez, starting a career as a bullpen coach.
- José Alfaro
- Porfirio Altamirano
- Wilson Alvarez
- Rubén Amaro Jr.
- Luis Aparicio
- Jay Baller
- Mike Bielecki
- Dick Billings
- Derek Botelho
- Juan Bustabad
- Leonel Carrión
- Pedro Castellano
- Cristóbal Colón
- Steve Cummings
- Bob Dernier
- Brandon Duckworth
- Mike Easler
- Gustavo Espósito
- Terry Francona
- Adrian Garrett
- Carlos González
- Geremi González
- Jesús González
- César Gutiérrez
- Toby Harrah
- Pete Incaviglia
- Bart Johnson
- Julio Machado
- Greg Maddux
- Ernesto Mejia
- Orlando Muñoz
- Lipso Nava
- Johnny Paredes
- Gerardo Parra
- Eduardo Pérez
- Carlos Quintana
- Roberto Ramos
- Jimmy Rollins
- Ryne Sandberg
- Mike Scott
- Phil Stephenson
- Dave Stewart
- César Suárez
- César Tovar
- Jesús Marcano Trillo
- José de la Trinidad Bracho
- Walt Williams
- Eduardo Zambrano
- Bill Adair
- Rubén Amaro Sr.
- Luís Aparicio
- Luis Aparicio "El Grande"
- Greg Biagini
- Dick Billings
- Marc Bombard
- Alfonso Carrasquel
- Leonel Carrión
- Ron Clark
- Stan Cliburn
- Pompeyo Davalillo
- Larry Doby
- Gustavo Gil
- Enrique Izquierdo
- Noé Maduro
- Pete Mackanin
- Jack Moore
- Omer Muñoz
- Eddie Perez
- Leo Posada
- Octavio Rojas
- John Russell
- Tony Taylor
- Jesús Marcano Trillo
- Bobby Wine
People and personalities around the organization
- Luis Rodolfo Machado Bohórquez: "Founding father" of Aguilas del Zulia.
- Lilia Silva de Machado: Wife of Luis Rodolfo Machado Bohórquez and honorary president of Aguilas del Zulia.
- Antonio Quintero Parra: A businessman in Zulia. Helped fund the foundation of the club.
- Lucas Rincón Colmenares: A Zulia businessman who became president of the team and was later a scout for the Phillies and Expos.
- Ernesto Montiel: Club director and fan who was instrumental in founding the team.
- Luis Rodolfo Machado Silva: President and general manager of the 1999-2000 championship team. He led the modernization and restructuring of the team.
- Ruperto Machado Silva: General manage of the team for four Venezuelan championships and two Caribbean World Series He led the team for more than 10 years. When he died in 1995, he was replaced by his brother Luis Rodolfo.
- Rubén Amaro Mora: Spent 11 seasons in the Major Leagues. He was born in Mexico. His father was the legendary Cuban player Santos Amaro. His son followed him into the major leagues. He has served as a manager, general manager, scout, and club president. He has served the club for more than 20 years. Currently, his son, Ruben, Jr. is the assistant general manager of the Phillies. The Amaros have had a relationship with the club in Zulia for more than 25 years.
- Jorge Miquilena: Served as a bat boy in both the Venezuelan Western League and the Venezuelan major league. He is the only person who has been affiliated with the club since it was founded.
- Luis Verde: Sportswriter and historian. He was a player, manager, executive and umpire before beginning his career as a sportswriter. He wrote La historia del Béisbol en el Zulia which is considered the bible of baseball in the Zulia state. The 2006-2007 baseball season in Venezuela, will be played on his memory and the season carries his name.
- Arturo Celestino Alvarez: Nicknamed "El Premier" (The First). Considered the best broadcaster in Maracaibo. He called games for Aguilas del Zulia until his death in 1986. His most famous phrase was "The restaurant is now open..." He is remembered with much affection in Maracaibo and Zulia. He was also an executive for the Lara Cardinals.
- "El Ventarrón" Oscar García: A broadcaster on both radio and television. He also recorded the history of the club.
- Néstor López: For many years López worked with Arturo Celestino Alvarez to call games for Zulia. He was dedicated to advancing baseball in Zulia all his life.
- Antonio Nuñez Rovira: A noted official in the Venezuelan League in Maracaibo. He kept statistics and the history of the Aguilas.
- Leandro Núñez Cruz: The son of a baseball official, he was witness to many notable events in Maracaibo.
- Gerardo Quintero: The voice of the Aguilas for more than thirty years. He also called major league baseball games on local television. He died in 2002.
- Emiro Díaz Peña: Called many games on local television and is a respected figure in baseball.
- Elbano Castro Pimentel: One of the premier sportswriters in the region. He frequently comments on the state of Venezuelan baseball.
- Leonte Landino Jr.: A sportswriter and baseball journalist who spent several season with the club. He created and hosted the syndicated television program Aguilas...A la Carga which contributed greatly to the history of the club on television on both the local and national levels. He was influential in moving local baseball coverage onto cable television and FM radio. He has called many games in the major leagues, worked for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and currently works for ESPN International in the United States. Member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
- Antonio "Toñito" Soler: Young analyst for the radio network. One of the first writers to rely on the interpretation of statistics. Also one of the commentators on baseball on Venezuelan television.
- Manuel Hernández: Actor. Became an icon of the club giving life to "Agui", the fat eagle team mascot and the most recognized in Venezuelan baseball. He has been invited in the Caribbean Series and has received offers to be a mascot in United States and Japan.
- J.J. Villasmil: A professor of statistics at the University of Zulia. He has utilized the ideas of economics in baseball. He has also been an executive and commentator on the league. He has one of the finest collections of local baseball memorabilia.
- La Esquina Caliente: A group of fans for more than 30 years who have become experts on statistics and history. They sit in a section on the third base line.
- Johan Urdaneta: Calls games on local radio.
- Pepe Delgado Rivero: Known for his historic baseball and basketball broadcast in national television. He became famous working for Radio Caracas TV. He has a particular and well known style of calling strikeouts.
- Rodney Calderón: Modernized the scouting system which has led many players to the major leagues. He was a scout for the Texas Rangers and founded their baseball academy.
- Águilas en la Historia (in Spanish)