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Nap Reyes

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Napoleón Aguilera Reyes

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[edit] Biographical Information

Nap Reyes had a successful career as a player and manager in Cuba and the US and also played well in Mexico.

[edit] Amateur Career

Reyes hit .297 for the winning Cuban national team in the 1940 Amateur World Series and .343 in the 1941 Amateur World Series in which Cuba was upset by Venezuela. He drove in 23 runs for the University of Havana in 1941 to lead the Cuban National Amateur Baseball League.

[edit] Cuba and Jersey City

Playing in Cuba, 1946.

Reyes debuted professionally that winter in the Cuban Winter League and hit .319 while slugging .386. The Almendares infielder was 5th in the loop with 18 RBI and third in average behind only Silvio Garcia and Santos Amaro while he helped his team to a title. He made the CWL All-Star team at third base.

Reyes signed with the New York Giants and was assigned straight to their top farm team, the Jersey City Giants. He played mostly first base in 1942 and hit .241/~.287/.281, not good for a corner infielder. He did not hit any home runs in 370 AB.

Returning to Almendares, he helped them to another title by batting .323 and slugging .409. He finished 4th in the Cuban Winter League in average and was named to the All-Star team at second base.

Back in Jersey City in 1943, Reyes improved significantly. Splitting his 58 games evenly between first and third base, he hit .342/~.396/.456.

[edit] New York

That earned him a chance in the major leagues but he only eked out a .256/.290/.320 line for the 1943 Giants. It was comparable, though, to the other first baseman, Joe Orengo.

Reyes spent all of the next two years in the major leagues. With the 1944 Giants, he batted .289/.325/.422 for a 109 OPS+ while playing first, third and a little outfield. He tied for fifth in the 1944 NL in times hit by pitch (5).

In 1945, Nap slipped to .288/.338/.376 for a 97 OPS+ as New York's starting third sacker. He was hit by 8 pitches, tying Andy Pafko and Mel Ott for the lead in the 1945 NL.

[edit] Mexico and Cuba

In the 1945-1946 Cuban Winter League, Reyes began with Almendares before finishing with the title-winning Cienfuegos team. He batted .268 and slugged .335 while tying Frank Campos for the league lead with six triples. For the third time in three CWL seasons, he made the All-Star team - and at the third different position, being chosen at first base this time.

Reyes jumped to the Mexican League with other major leaguers in 1946 and had a great year, hitting .361/~.418/.515 with 11 triples and 75 RBI in 93 games for the Puebla Parrots. He led the Liga with 140 hits, was second in average (3 points behind fellow Cuban Claro Duany) and third in triples. He outhit teammate Bobby Avila, who was destined for greater fame.

For jumping to Mexico, Reyes was blacklisted by Organized Baseball like others who made that choice.

Returning to Cienfuegos as a backup infielder in 1946-1947, Reyes hit .271 and slugged .339. In 1947, he hit .303/~.344/.385 for Puebla with 9 triples. He played for and managed the Cuba entry in the 1947-1948 Cuban Players League but Santos Amaro replaced him at the helm during the year. Nap only hit .227 and slugged .294 as a utility infielder.

In his third season for Puebla, Nap batted .332/~.382/.477. He was among the top 10 in the LMB in batting average. The next year, he moved to the Mexico City Red Devils to hit .270/~.368/.382 in 66 games. Overall, he had hit .320/~.379/.441 in four years in the Mexican League with 237 RBI in 344 games and 119 walks to 93 strikeouts.

Back with Cienfuegos in 1949-1950, Reyes hit .239 and slugged .290. 31 years old, he was not going to return to regular play in winter ball again.

[edit] One more AAA season; last MLB game

With Organized Baseball having reopened the doors to defectors to Mexico, Reyes returned. He hit .310/~.362/.497 in 66 games as a utility man for Jersey City and went 0 for 1 with the 1950 Giants. He had batted .284/.326/.387 for a 99 OPS+ in the major leagues.

[edit] To the low minors

Never having played a game below AA, Reyes would spend the rest of his career in the low minors. In the 1950-1951 winter season, he hit .226 and slugged .326 for Cienfuegos.

In 1951, Reyes moved to the Havana Cubans and hit .280 while slugging .419. He led the club with 10 home runs and 61 RBI in a low-scoring environment. In 1951-1952, Nap batted .212 and slugged .231 in just 52 AB for Cienfuegos, his last time playing winter ball. He split 1952 between the Havana Cubans (29 games) and Key West Conchs (64 contests), combining for a .277/~.335/.373 batting line. He played at least 29 games at first base, second base and third base, continuing to showcase his versatility.

In 1953, Reyes was a player-manager for the Morristown Red Sox, piloting them to a 64-62 mark. He batted .370/~.496/.596 in 96 games, scoring 87 runs, driving in 97 and homering 16 times in the high-offense circuit. He drew 69 walks while only striking out in 25 of his 322 AB. He finished 4th in the Mountain States League in average and was second in times hit by pitch (12). His .992 fielding percentage led the league's first basemen.

In the 1954 Caribbean Series, he managed Pastora de Occidente.

Reyes finished up as a player in 1954. Morristown folded after a 7-7 start and he wound up playing for half the league's teams that year, hitting .382 with 5 HR and 30 RBI. Had he qualified, he would have won the league batting crown. He also played for the Erie Senators and was one of their four managers that year. He hit .366 with one home run and 17 RBI in his time with Erie.

[edit] Managing and scouting

Reyes replaced Mike Guerra as manager of Marianao in the Cuban Winter League during the 1954-1955 season. In 1955-1956, he piloted the team to a 34-35 record. He replaced Reggie Otero as manager of the Havana Sugar Kings in early June of 1956. That year, he also scouted and signed Andrés Ayón for the Cincinnati Reds. In the winter of 1956-1957, Reyes led Marianao to a 40-28 record and their first Cuban Winter League pennant in 20 years. He then continued his success in the 1957 Caribbean Series, taking his team to the title.

Reyes managed Havana to a 72-82 record and sixth place in the International League. In the winter, he repeated his performance with Marianao as they won another title (43-32). He guided them to a win in the 1958 Caribbean Series for his second victory there.

During a 65-88, last place finish in 1958, Reyes was replaced as Havana's manager by Tony Pacheco. Marianao was not as good in 1958-1959 (38-34) and 1959-1960 (36-36), finishing second both years under Reyes.

When Havana moved to Jersey City, NJ and became the Jersey City Jerseys in 1960, manager Tony Castano resigned to remain in Cuba. Reyes replaced him as pilot of the team. They finished 76-77 and were 70-82 in 1961, their only full year as the Jerseys.

Reyes later managed the 1975-1976 Cafeteros de Cordoba and 1977 Cardenales de Tabasco.

[edit] Honors

Reyes was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 by the Federacion de Peloteros Profesionales Cubanos en el Exilio (Federation of Cuban Professional Players in Exile). Nap died in 1995. He was voted into the Cuban Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

[edit] Sources

The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros, A History of Cuban Baseball by Peter Bjarkman, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo, The International League: Year-by-Year Statistics by Marshall Wright, 1951, 1953 and 1954 Baseball Guides, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database

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