Francisco Estrada Soto
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 182 lb.
- School Cuesta College
- Debut September 14, 1971
- Final Game September 14, 1971
- Born February 12, 1948 in Navojoa, Sonora Mexico
- Died December 9, 2019 in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora Mexico
Catcher Frank Estrada was traded with Nolan Ryan to the California Angels, but his only major league time consisted of a single game for the New York Mets in 1971. During a 30-year pro career, however, "Paquín" was behind the plate for roughly 4,000 games. That is far more than anyone else in pro baseball history.
Estrada holds the minor league baseball record for games caught (2,847). He spent 26 summers in the Mexican League, from 1966 to 1970 and 1974 through 1994, totaling 2,415 games. In the winters Estrada played 1,538 games across 30 seasons (1964-65 through 1993-94).
Estrada's best offensive season was early in his career - in 1970 the 22-year-old backstop hit .303/.405/.529. He hit 18 homers, 10 more than his next-best year in Mexico; 11 triples, 7 more than his next-best season in Mexico; his slugging percentage was over 100 points above his 2nd best season in La Liga Mexicana; his 72 walks were 10 more than any other season there. Noted more for his defense than his bat, he hit .275 and slugged .357 in Mexico. He topped .300 5 times in the Mexican League but also hit .230 or less 4 times.
In his only major league appearance, on September 14, 1971, he replaced Mets regular catcher Jerry Grote with his team trailing 12-0 in the 6th inning of the first game of a doubleheader against the Montreal Expos. He caught the remainder of the game and went to bat twice, singling off Bill Stoneman in first at-bat, and then grounding out to first base to end the game in the bottom of the 9th. He thus has a career major league batting average of .500. He allowed a passed ball in four innings behind the plate in becoming the first Mexican catcher in major league history.
In 2000, he was selected to Mexico's Salon de la Fama as a player, but he is also the most successful manager in his nation's history.
Estrada has led teams to Mexican League titles in 1983, 1990 and 2004 (he had begun managing while still an active player). He managed the Mexican team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. He managed Campeche in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988 and 2003-2005. He also piloted Toluca (1984), the Leon Braves (1989-1991), Minatitlan Petroleros (1992-1994), Puebla Angels (1995), Langosteros de Cancun (1998-1999), Yucatan Lions (2000-2002) and Dorados de Chihuahua (2007 until April 2009). He later managed Minatitlan and Leon, both for a second time.
Estrada played in eight Caribbean Series and managed in four. He won the 1986 Caribbean Series as a player and 1996 Caribbean Series and 2002 Caribbean Series as a skipper. In 2013, he was inducted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame.
On March 2, 2017, Estrada was reported missing by Mexican baseball officials. He was slated to manage the Mexican national team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, due to begin a few days later, but his whereabouts were unknown. There were fears of a relapse of medical problems, as he had recently undergone heart surgery. He was found but his health problems persisted and in November 2019, he was hospitalized again in his hometown to undergo heart surgery. However, he experienced various setbacks after the procedure and died in hospital on December 9th, at the age of 71.
His brother Héctor Estrada also played and managed in Mexico.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
- Viva Beisbol newsletter by Bruce Baskin, "The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics" by Pedro Treto Cisneros