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Ramon Romero

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1986 Topps #208 Ramon Romero

Ramon Romero De Los Santos

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 4", Weight 170 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Dominican lefty pitcher Ramon Romero was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1976 and made his pro debut the following summer with the Pulaski Phillies, a co-op team that received players from a number of organizations. He recorded 10 saves for the Hagerstown Suns in 1981 and won 10 games, pitching mostly in relief, for the AA Buffalo Bisons in 1983. After starting 1984 with Buffalo, where he went 3-4 with a 5.61 ERA in 11 starts, he moved up to the AAA Maine Guides and went 1-1 with a 2.56 ERA in 27 games at that level. He then earned a September call-up to the Indians, making one appearance. Facing the Seattle Mariners on September 18th, he hit the first batter he faced, Jack Perconte, with a pitch, but overall, he threw 3 hitless and scoreless innings of relief while striking out 3.

Romero made the Cleveland Opening Day roster in 1985 as a member of the team's bullpen. After making just one appearance and giving up 2 earned runs in a third of an inning against the Detroit Tigers, he was sent back to the minors in late April when Andre Thornton was activated from the disabled list. He was back with the Indians in July, when he joined the team's rotation. He recorded his first big league win against the New York Yankees on July 30th but overall went 2-3 with a 5.76 ERA in 10 starts. Moving back to the pen, he ended the year with a 6.58 ERA in 19 games.

Early in 1986, Romero was dealt to the Minnesota Twins. He split that season between the Orlando Twins and the Toledo Mud Hens, and that year was his final one in the United States. He pitched one more year, in the Mexican League with the Rieleros de Aguascalientes in 1987.

Romero quickly disappeared from the map after leaving baseball. Having a very generic name (he was often confused with teammate Jose Roman, another pitcher with less than overwhelming numbers for the Indians), he was hard to trace. None of his former teammates seemed to know what had happened to him, and his autograph was impossible to find. One researcher, Tom Hufford, whose particular obsession was finding out information about players who had been with Pulaski at some point, made it his personal mission to track him down. It took him two decades to find out.

A first clue about Romero's whereabouts was an entry in the Social Security Death Index that listed a R. Romero, born in 1959, to have died in New York, NY in 1988. It was impossible at first for Hufford to obtain a death certificate for that person, because of privacy laws, so this remained as simply a possible clue. However, further research found an article in Newsday mentioning the death of a Ramon Romero on the date of the suspicious death. Another attempt with the New York vital records department in 2014 was successful, and the death certificate confirmed that the dead man was the former major league pitcher. The circumstances were not pretty, however: Romero had become a suspected crack dealer, and he died after police witnessed a drug deal in the hallway of his apartment. The police chased him, he tried to leave via the fire escape and to climb back into the building through a window, but fell six stories to his death. He was one of countless faceless victims in the drug wars that were going on all over inner cities in the late 1980s, and no one connected the small-time dealer to the struggling pitcher who had been in the majors only a few years earlier. He was 29 at the time, and his body was repatriated to his hometown of San Pedro de Macoris, his death going otherwise unrecorded for a quarter century.

[edit] Further Reading

  • "Ramon Romero Found", in Bill Carle, ed. Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, March/April 2014, p. 1.

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