Antonio Pacheco Massó (El Capitán)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 207 lb.
Antonio Pacheco was the all-time Cuban leagues hit leader for over a decade and was a star performer for the Cuban national team. From 1983 to 2001, Pacheco hit .400 or better in 11 of 25 international competitions he appeared in and only was under .300 twice. He was on five Cuban National Series champions as a player then became a successful manager. He is the brother of Juan Pacheco and uncle of Jeison Pacheco. Noted as a steady and reliable performer, Pacheco did not draw the headlines of his long-time teammates on the national team, Orestes Kindelan and Omar Linares; Kindelan had also been his longtime teammate on Santiago de Cuba.
Pacheco debuted in the Cuban leagues in the 1980-1981 National Series. In 1982-1983, Antonio tied Pedro Luis Rodriguez for the lead in triples (6). His first international tournament was the 1983 Pan American Games, in which he hit .500 for the winning Cubans. In the 1983 Intercontinental Cup, Antonio batted .378 and hit two triples to lead the competition.
In the 1984 Amateur World Series, Pacheco batted .429/.488/.600 as Cuba's shortstop and finished 4th in average. In the 1985 Selective Series, he led the way in triples (4) and tied Fernando Sánchez for the hit lead (60). During the 1985 Intercontinental Cup, Antonio batted .379. In the 1986 Amateur World Series, he batted .456, slugged .870 and scord 15 runs while driving in 13. He tied Omar Linares for second in average behind Giuseppe Carelli. In the 1986 Central American and Caribbean Games, Pacheco batted .440.
During the 1986-1987 National Series, Pacheco scored 40 runs to tie Linares for the lead. He led the 1987 Selective Series in hits (88) and tied three others for the lead in doubles (16). In the 1987 Pan American Games, Pacheco batted .429 with 13 runs as Cuba edged the US for yet another title. In the 1987 Intercontinental Cup, the second baseman hit .396 with a leading three triples. He made the All-Star team at second base. He now had 7 Gold Medals in 7 international events.
In the 1988 Baseball World Cup, he hit .479/.528/.667 with 14 runs, 10 RBI and four stolen bases in 13 games. He tied for 5th in steals, tied Robin Ventura for the most hits (23) and was second to Lourdes Gourriel in batting average. He went 0 for 3 with a walk and a run in the close Gold Medal game win over Team USA. He made the Cup All-Star team at second base.
Pacheco hit .333 in the 1989 Intercontinental Cup. In the 1990 Central American and Caribbean Games, Antonio batted .485 and led in hits (16). He helped Cuba win the 1990 Goodwill Games. In the 1990 Baseball World Cup, the veteran hit .378/.391/.667 with 4 homers, 15 runs and 17 RBI in 10 games. He tied Víctor Mesa for 4th in RBI (15) and tied Gourriel for third in home runs behind Orestes Kindelan and Linares. Julio Medina beat him out for the tournament All-Star team slot at second base.
Pacheco continued to shine in the 1991 Pan American Games, hitting .545. He led the competition in average, hits (18) and RBI (15) and tied German Mesa, Víctor Mesa and Linares for the most runs (13) en route to claiming the MVP award for the Games.
In the 1992 Olympics, the 28-year-old hit .350/.400/.600 with 3 homers, 11 runs and 12 RBI in 9 games, though he made four errors. He tied for third in homers and tied for 4th in RBI. He was 1 for 4 with a steal and a run in the Gold Medal game win as Cuba got the first Gold in Olympic baseball history.
Pacheco batted .400 in the 1993 Central American and Caribbean Games. He led in runs (10) and his 3 homers tied Kindelan for the lead. In the 1993 Intercontinental Cup, Pacheco hit .386/.408/.636 with 16 runs and 13 RBI in 11 games and tied for fifth in hits (17).
During the 1994 Baseball World Cup, Pacheco hit .395/.447/.814 with 6 homers, 15 runs and 17 RBI. He tied Kindelan for the most home runs, was 4th in hits (17) and was one RBI behind leader Gourriel. He scored twice against Sung-min Cho and Sun-dong Lim in the Gold Medal game win. Pacheco made the tourney All-Star team at second base.
In the 1995 Pan American Games, Pacheco batted .438. He finally was under .300 in an international event 12 years after his international debut, batting a solid .259/.355/.556. The 1996 Olympics gave Antonio another chance to shine and he did not disappoint, hitting .359/.405/.769 with 5 homers, 13 runs and 14 RBI in nine games. He was 5th in RBI and tied Warren Morris, Jacque Jones and Nobuhiko Matsunaka for third in homers behind Kindelan and Linares. He was 1 for 4 with one of 8 Cuban homers in their 13-9 win over Japan in the Gold Medal game.
His 9 sacrifice flies led the 1996-1997 Cuban National Series, the first time in a decade he had led a Cuban league in a department.
In the 1997 Intercontinental Cup, Pacheco batted .364/.371/.970 while moving to DH. For the first time in 21 international events, Pacheco's team failed to win Gold as they lost to the Japanese national team in the Gold Medal game; Pacheco was 2 for 4 with a solo homer in the stunning 11-2 defeat. Greg Jelks beat him out for tournament All-Star honors at DH. In the 1997 World Port Tournament, he batted .409/~.435/.727 with 6 RBI in five games.
During the 1998 Baseball World Cup, Pacheco helped Cuba win Gold by batting .486/.487/.886 with 11 runs and 17 RBI. He was one RBI behind Kindelan for the tournament lead, was third in average, made the tournament All-Star team at second base and won the Baseball World Cup MVP. In the Gold Medal game, he dazzled against Byung-hyun Kim and two relievers, going 4 for 4 with two doubles, two runs and a time hit by pitch in the 7-1 victory.
Pacheco hit only .267 in the 1998 Central American and Caribbean Games, the second time he had failed to reach .300 in an international event. In the 2000 Olympics, the old-timer hit .385/.414/.500 as a 2B-DH to tie Brent Abernathy and Ernie Young for third in average behind David Nilsson and Doug Mientkiewicz. In the Gold Medal game, though, he was 0 for 3 against Ben Sheets as Cuba failed to take first place; it was only the second time Pacheco had played on a second-place team in an international competition.
In the 2000-2001 Cuban Serie Nacional, Pacheco set a new Cuban leagues double record (356), passing Antonio Muñoz. He saved his most memorable hit for the final game of the season, when he hit a 8th-inning grand slam to give Santiago de Cuba its fifth title during his career.
Pacheco's final games for the national team came in the 2001 Baseball World Cup, when he and longtime infield mates Linares, Kindelan and German Mesa all finished up. He hit .353/.400/.559 with 9 RBI and made the Cup All-Star team at second base ahead of Tadahito Iguchi and Orlando Hudson. He tied six others for second in home runs (2), trailing Chin-Feng Chen, Evert-Jan 't Hoen and Julio Mosquera. He was 1 for 3 with a walk and a run in the 5-3 win over the US in the Gold Medal game.
Retiring from Cuba, Pacheco was given permission by the government to play in the Japanese industrial leagues as he, Kindelan and Linares went to Japan. In the 2004-2005 Serie Nacional, Pacheco returned to Santiago de Cuba as a manager and guided the team to a title in his first year at the helm. His team also won titles in 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. He won Manager of the Year honors in 2007-2008. After missing the playoffs in 2010-2011, though, he was replaced by Alcides Sánchez.
In Cuban leagues, Pacheco hit .334/.399/.525. Through 2003-2004, he ranked 4th in at-bats (7,045), tied for third in seasons (22), 5th in runs (1,258), first in hits (2,356, 141 over runner-up Fernando Sánchez), 5th in average (tied with Pedro Luis Rodriguez), second in doubles (366, trailing only Javier Mendez), 9th in triples (63), 11th in home runs (284), third in total bases (3,700, trailing Kindelan and Linares), third in RBI (1,304, trailing Kindelan and Antonio Muñoz), second in sacrifice flies (88, 3 behind Linares) and 7th in double plays hit into (187). In 2012, his hit record was finally broken by Enrique Esteban Díaz.
In Olympics history (through 2004), Pacheco ranks tied for second in games played (26, tied with Kindelan behind Linares), third in home runs (8, behind Kindelan and Linares), third in hits (38) and second in RBI (32, four behind Kindelan). He hit .362 in the Olympics.
In Intercontinental Cup history (through 2005), Pacheco ranked tied for third in homers (6, even with Yobal Duenas and Greg Jelks behind Kindelan and Linares) and 4th in RBI (26). He batted .364 in the Intercontinental Cup.
In Baseball World Cup history (1981-2005 only), Pacheco ranked tied for first in Cups (5, even with four others), led in games played (53), third in home runs (17, behind Kindelan and Linares), second in hits (86, one behind Kindelan) and second in RBI (68, trailing Kindelan). He hit .421 in World Cups.
Overall, Pacheco hit .402 in 827 at-bats in international competitions.