- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 7", Weight 148 lb.
Avelino Cañizares spent one year each in the US minor leagues and US Negro Leagues and one year in Canada. He primarily was in Latin America, though, as he played in Mexico for 8 years and in his native Cuba for 12. He was noted for his speed and on-base ability.
Cañizares debuted in the Cuban Winter League in the 1942-1943 season, going 0 for 9. In 1943-1944, he hit .284 as the starting shortstop for Almendares. He went to the Mexican League for the first time in 1944 and the 24-year-old hit a strong .305/~.361/.386 with 14 steals for the Tampico Lightermen. In 1944-1945, he hit .233 for Almendares but scored 29 runs to tie Santos Amaro, Hector Rodriguez and Conrado Perez for the CWL lead. He was named as the league's All-Star SS ahead of Tony Ordenana, Silvio Garcia and Angel Fleitas.
That earned Avelino his shot at the Negro Leagues. Quincy Trouppe recruited the tiny speedster to play for the Cleveland Buckeyes and he responded with a .314 batting average. His 7 triples tied Jesse Douglas for second in the Negro American League, trailing only Sam Jethroe. Cañizares was 3 for 15 in the 1945 Negro World Series but Cleveland swept the Homestead Grays. He did come up with a big play in the 9th inning of game one, turning a contest-ending double play against Sam Bankhead with a 2-1 deficit and two on.
In the 1945-1946 Cuban campaign, Avelino hit .273 for Almendares and tied Mike Guerra for the league lead with 6 triples. He then returned to Mexico with the 1946 Torreon Cotton Dealers and hit .298/~.382/.381 with 18 steals and 72 runs in 90 games. Cañizares batted .260 for Almendares in 1946-1947 and led the Cuban Winter League with 46 runs. He failed to be named the All-Star shortstop as that honor went to Hank Thompson.
With the 1947 Tuneros de San Luis, the infielder hit .281/~.387/.354 with 24 steals, 93 runs and 72 walks in 113 games. In 1947-1948, Avelino played for the Alacranes of the Cuban Players League and hit .310. He led the league with 53 runs and set a Cuban winter ball record with 114 hits. He was named the All-Star shortstop ahead of Moe Franklin, Lou Klein and Stan Breard. He split the summer of 1948 between two Mexican clubs, hitting .270/~.392/.336 and swiping 14 bags.
In the 1948-1949 campaign, Cañizares hit .251 for Almendares. He was 4 for 24 with 5 runs in the 1949 Caribbean Series, as his club claimed the first Caribbean Series title ever. In 1949-1950, the veteran batted only .198 for Almendares and lost his starting job as he had to split time with Eddie Pellagrini and Willie Miranda, who would unseat him as the starting shortstop for the Blues. He was 0 for 1 in the 1950 Caribbean Series.
Cañizares played in the Provincial League in 1950 for the Sherbrooke Athlétiques. He hit .295/~.366/.347 with 12 steals and 69 runs in 98 games as a utility man, appearing in the outfield and at both second base and shortstop. In 1950-1951, he was 2 for 13 for Almendares with 5 runs, now the clear backup to Miranda. In 1951-1952, he hit .270 for Almendares as the #5 infielder; three of the top four would play in the major leagues and the other one spent significant time in the high minors.
Avelino returned to the US in 1952 as a utility infielder for the Keokuk Kernels but hit only .222/.326/.297 in 65 games as age was catching up to him. In 1952-1953, he only got 27 at-bats in Cuba and just four hits. In 1953-1954, he went 11 for 43 with 9 runs for Cienfuegos to conclude his career in the Cuban Winter League.
Cañizares began his third stint in Mexico in 1954, hitting .244/~.318/.322 with 10 steals in 74 games for a couple teams in the Mexican League. At age 37 in 1957, he hit .302/.384/.430 for the Mexicali Eagles. The old man (by baseball standards) still had enough spring in his step to steal 25 bases and score 120 runs in 123 games. He drew 72 walks while only striking out 43 times and smacked 8 home runs, a rarity for the lightweight infielder.
In 1958, the Havana native hit .359 for Mexicali; had he qualified, he would have ranked in the top 10 in the Arizona-Mexico League in batting average. It was his last season as a full-time player. In 1964, he hit .189 with 3 RBI for the Saltillo Sultanes as a player-manager in the Mexican Center League.
Cañizares was voted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1954||Saltillo Sultanes||Mexican Center League||58-62||5th|
- Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo
- The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros
- A History of Cuban Baseball by Peter Bjarkman
- The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley
- The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway
- 1951, 1953 and 1958 Baseball Guides
- Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database