From BR Bullpen
Armando Capiró Laferte
- Bats Right, Throws Right
Armando Capiró was called "perhaps the most colorful Cuban batsman" of the 1960s and 1970s by Peter Bjarkman, a Cuban baseball historian. Armando played for the Cuban national team in twelve different tournaments, helping them win a Gold Medal each time - in seven of the events, he led in at least one department. He is the brother of José Capiró.
Capiró went 10 for 15 in the 1970 Central American and Caribbean Games for an excellent debut on the international stage, but was just four for 21 in the 1970 Amateur World Series. In the 1970-1971 Serie Nacional, the Industriales flyhawk led the loop with 51 RBI and seven sacrifice flies. He also led that season's Cuban All-Star Series with five RBI.
In the 1971 Pan American Games, Armando hit .314 and drove home 10 runs to tie Wilfredo Sánchez for the lead. He fell to .217 in the 1971 Amateur World Series; after weak outings in his first two Amateur World Series, he would top .300 in his other four appearances in the event. Capiró batted .377 in the 1972 Amateur World Series and led the event with 21 RBI; his three triples tied Wilfredo Sánchez and Manuel Estrada for the most. After Cuba won the Series, they played an All-Star team from all the other nations and won, 6-0, with Capiró smashing a three-run homer to lead the offense. The event also featured an anecdote about Capiró that likely has an error, if not being totally false - Bjarkman reports in A History of Cuban Baseball that fans called for a throwing contest between Armando (noted for his arm in the outfield), Puerto Rican national team manager Roberto Clemente and Nicaragua's David Green - Clemente turned down the offer. As Green was only 12 years old at the time, either his identity is mistaken, the episode took place years later without Clemente or the whole incident never occurred.
Playing for La Habana in the 1972-1973 Serie Nacional, the 24-year-old led in RBI (74), intentional walks (18) and home runs (22). The first player to top 20 in a Series, he broke Agustín Marquetti's mark of 19. He was named Serie Nacional Most Valuable Player. The home run record stood for 12 years until Lázaro Junco topped it. In the All-Star Series that year, he led with 3 homers, 2 doubles and 6 RBI. Capiró hit .368 in the 1973 Amateur World Series and his three homers tied Evelio Hernández and Félix Isasi for the Series lead.
Armando led another All-Star Series in RBI (4) and homers (2) in 1973-1974. He batted .324 in the 1974 Central American and Caribbean Games, which he led with three doubles and 15 RBI. He was named Most Spectacular Player of the 1974 Haarlem Baseball Week.
Capiró drove in 27 runners for the Metropolitanos to lead the 1974-1975 Serie Nacional. He scored 44 runs for Habana to lead the 1975 Series Selectivas; his 12 home runs tied Antonio Muñoz for the most. He hit .323 in the 1975 Pan American Games.
Armando tied Muñoz for the most doubles, 12, in the 1976 Series Selectivas. He hit .422 in the 1976 Amateur World Series and led with 17 runs and five home runs. Capiró led the 1976-1977 Serie Nacional with 52 hits and 7 triples. On May 16, 1977, he became the first Cuban leaguer (Castro era) to crack 100 career home runs, taking Manuel Álvarez deep; the same day, Wilfredo Sánchez became the first player to 1,000 hits.
Capiró did not slow down at age 30. He batted .614 in the 1978 Central American and Caribbean Games, setting a Central American and Caribbean Games record with 27 hits. He did not lead the event in average somehow as Muñoz topped .700. He hit .321/.344/.393 in the 1978 Amateur World Series, with one assist and no errors as Cuba's left fielder.
In 1978-1979, Armando had twelve doubles to tie Lourdes Gourriel and Jorge Beltrán for the league lead, his last time leading in any department. He had his swan song for the national team in the 1979 Pan American Games, going 11 for 22. He tied Pedro José Rodríguez, Sr. for the best average and was two hits shy of co-leaders Luis Casanova, Terry Francona and Marquetti.
In 14 seasons in Cuba, Capiró hit .298/.384/.492 with 162 home runs.