Zoilo Casanova Versalles Rodriguez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 150 lb.
- Debut August 1, 1959
- Final Game September 28, 1971
- Born December 18, 1939 in Havana Cuba
- Died June 9, 1995 in Bloomington, MN USA
Zoilo Versalles is best known for winning the 1965 American League Most Valuable Player Award with the AL champion Minnesota Twins, playing Gold Glove shortstop while leading the league in doubles, triples, runs, total bases, and extra-base hits.
The Cuban-born Versalles was signed as a free agent in 1958 and made the jump to the majors as a 19-year-old with the Washington Senators in 1959. He spent his first nine seasons with the Senators/Twins organization. From 1962 to 1965 he showed excellent power for a shortstop of his day, hitting 17, 10, 20, and 19 home runs and three times leading the AL in triples. His outstanding performance in 1965 earned him the AL MVP Award and helped lead the Twins to their first pennant in Minnesota.
In 1966, he hit .249, nine points above the league average. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968 but hit only .196, partly because of a back injury. In 1969 he hit .236 split between two teams. After spending 1970 in the Mexican League he returned to the Bigs with the 1971 Atlanta Braves before leaving in 1972 for Japan. In his only season in Nippon Pro Baseball, he hit a meek .189/.223/.333 in 48 games for the Hiroshima Carp.
In addition to leading the AL in triples three times, Versalles won two Gold Gloves and led the league in runs once, doubles once, total bases once, extra-base hits once, and hit-by-pitch once. Speedy, he finished as high as third in the league in steals.
Although the twelve-year veteran is sometimes remembered as a light hitter, it must be recalled he played most of his career during Baseball's stat-depressed second dead-ball era.
Versalles struggled after leaving baseball. According to his New York Times obituary he couldn't read or write English and held a series of menial jobs. Eventually he lost his home, had to sell his awards, and lived on disability payments and Social Security. He suffered two heart attacks and had stomach surgery before passing away at 55.
- 2-time AL All-Star (1963 & 1965)
- AL MVP (1965)
- 2-time AL Gold Glove Winner (1963 & 1965)
- AL At Bats Leader (1965)
- AL Runs Scored Leader (1965)
- AL Total Bases Leader (1965)
- AL Doubles Leader (1965)
- 3-time AL Triples Leader (1963-1965)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1964)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1965)
|Brooks Robinson||Zoilo Versalles||Frank Robinson|
- Peter C. Bjarkman: "Zoilo Versalles", in Gregory H. Wolf, ed.: A Pennant for the Twin Cities: the 1965 Minnesota Twins, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 277-286. ISBN 978-1-943816-09-5