Ernesto López

From BR Bullpen

Ernesto Inocente López Uriarte (El Tiburón Mayor)

Biographical Information[edit]

Ernesto López was one of the greatest sluggers in Nicaragua's amateur league, winning seven home run titles and setting single-season and career home run marks.

López's mother died when he was 11; his father (who had 45 children in numerous marriages) was not part of the family at the time, so he went to live with an aunt, giving him a broken home life like fellow slugging legend Babe Ruth. [1] He debuted with Granada in 1969, when he was only 15, and hit .181/.227/.193 in 29 games. He would spend almost his entire career with the team. [2] He fell to .140/.157/.140 in 1970. In 1971, he hit his first eight home runs and batted .272/.303/.436. He debuted with the Nicaraguan national team that year. In the 1971 Pan American Games, the teenager went 5 for 16 while splitting an outfield spot with Pedro Selva; when Ernesto was in, he manned center field, with Jorge McKenzie taking CF when Selva was in. [3]

He hit .278/.398/.502 for Granada in 1972, leading the league in a department for the first time as he paced the loop with 13 intentional walks and 46 runs scored. [4] In 1973, seasonl statistics are unavailable but the leader list shows he was first with 39 runs scored and won his first home run title with 14. He produced at a .306/.384/.426 clip in 1974 and drew a league-high 16 intentional walks. In '75, he batted .321/.374/.456 and hit a league-leading five triples (he only had 12 in his other 25 seasons). Moving to UCA in 1976, he hit .335/.377/.552 and led the league with 127 total bases.

Returning to Granada in 1977, he hit .363/.449/.726 with 41 home runs and 111 RBI in 106 gqames. He led the league in RBI, home runs, runs (93), total bases (284), average and slugging. [5] He set the league RBI record (easily topping Selva's mark of 84 in 1975), home runs (breaking Selva's record by 13), slugging (.025 ahead of Selva), total bases (73 more than Selva), and runs (14 more than Vicente López). He joined Selva as the only Nicaraguan Triple Crown winners; through 2015, no one has since joined them. [6] He led the 1977 Intercontinental Cup with twelve runs and his five home runs tied Julio Cuarezma for the lead, but Nicaragua just lost out on the Bronze, right behind Japan. [7] He hit .353 for Nicaragua as they won Gold in the 1977 Central American Games. [8]

1978 was even better in some areas. He hit .362/.448/.781 with 42 home runs, 91 runs and 117 RBI. His RBI record still stands through 2016 (when someone came within five), his home run record still stands (Jose Ramon Padilla's 36 in 1993 are the highest in the next 38 seasons). David Green edged him for the run lead, 95 to 91, breaking his mark for that category. He did not lead in slugging as Vicente López broke his record with a .825 mark. He helped Nicaragua to a Silver Medal in the 1978 Central American and Caribbean Games, homering ten times in twelve games , including four in a game against Colombia, taking advantage of an amateur bat in a small park; he did not lead the event in dingers as Cuba's Pedro José Rodríguez, Sr. smacked 15. [9] It was Nicaragua's best Central American and Caribbean Games to that point; they had split the Silver back in 1935. In the 1978 Amateur World Series, he hit .237/.341/.579 with four home runs and nine RBI in ten games, while handling 10 putouts and 3 assists with no errors in left field. The other Nicaraguan batters combined for one home run, so it wasn't a small park this time, and he led the team in RBI and slugging (.016 ahead of Roberto Espino). He tied Tim Wallach for second in the event in home runs, four behind Cuban slugger Antonio Muñoz. [10]

He played for San Fernando in 1979 and only got into 16 games, hitting .283/.333/.623, going deep six times. Returning to Granada in 1980, he again saw limited time, but was excellent (.511/.652/1.200, 10 HR, 20 R, 28 RBI) in 18 G. He then ran afoul of the Nicaraguan baseball federation due to his having trained previously with the professional Miami Amigos, even though he did not sign with them. He wound up playing in Guatemala in 1981 as a result. That year, he lost his ring finger when his ring caught on a truck he was climbing down. [11]

Despite losing a finger, he returned to Nicaragua in 1982 to remain one of the league's dominant performers. He hit .263/.352/.495 and tied for the lead with eleven home runs. In 1983, he hit .343/.418/.614 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI in 83 games, claiming his second batting championship. He also led in slugging, home runs and total bases (186). He took his third straight home run title with ten in 1984, when he hit .333/.422/.536 and also led the league in hits (64), slugging (.576), RBI (34) and intentional walks (tied for 15 with Pablo Juárez). He fell to .297/.363/.470 in 1985 but went deep 11 times for his fourth consecutive home run title, his last time leading the league. He also led with 17 intentional walks and 125 total bases.

In 1986, the veteran hit .280/.373/.420. That year, he coached for Nicaragua when they won the 1986 Central American Games. [12] He hit .336/.400/.508 with 41 runs and 16 doubles in 69 games in 1987, finishing one double behind pacesetter Tomás Guzmán. In 1988, his batting line was .313/.408/.571 and he hit 19 home runs, scoring 52 times in 74 contests. He lost out on a 8th home run title, finishing one behind Apolinar Cruz. He did not play in Nicaragua in 1989-1990 but returned in 1991 for yet another solid performance - .318/.405/.538, 16 HR, 58 RBI in 84 G. He hit 16 home runs in 1992, when he hit .261/.452/.360 at age 38.

The Granada mainstay smashed 28 home runs in 1993, his most since his record-setting 1978 campaign, and drove in 95 in 105 games while hitting .328/.388/.591. In 1994, he finally started slowing down, hitting .265/.335/.383 at age 40. He followed with a .277/.349/.384 campaign and was only 6 for 30 with two doubles and six walks in 1996, now mostly a bench player, ending his Granada playing career 27 years after he started off there. He moved to San Fernando for 1997 and hit .207/.250/.310 in 12 games to finish his Nicaraguan career at .311/.389/.539 with 313 home runs, 885 runs and 1,076 RBI in 1,542 games.

Career leaders are not listed on the current Nicaraguan baseball federation website; the old beisnica site (through 2008) listed Ernesto as 4th in league history in hits (1,680, behind Ariel Delgado, Prospero Baca and Nemesio Porras), [13] second in games played (1,572, 242 behind Delgado), second in at-bats (5,403, 496 behind Delgado), first in home runs (65 ahead of Baca) and 3rd in RBI (after Delgado and Baca). [14]

He coached for Nicaragua again in the 2011 Baseball World Cup. [15]

Sources[edit]