Juan Izaguirre

From BR Bullpen

Juan Izaguirre (Juanito)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 198 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Juan Izaguirre won two Gold Medals before playing several seasons in the minors.

Izaguirre starred for the Cuban national team that won the 1950 Amateur World Series for their first world title since 1943; he led the tournament with 16 runs, 4 homers and 21 RBI. He set Amateur World Series records for RBI in a tourney and in a game (7). [1] The 21 RBI remained a record (tied by Armando Capiró and Agustín Marquetti) until Robin Ventura broke it in 1988. He then helped Cuba to a Gold in the 1951 Pan American Games, the first Pan American Games. He tied Israel Arredondo for the Games lead in hits (13). [2]

He turned pro that summer, serving as the main first baseman for the Havana Cubans (.241/?/.315 in 82 G) and also playing for the Big Spring Broncs (.260/?/.366 in 56 G). Considering that the former played in a notoriously pitcher-friendly league and the latter in a notoriously hitter-friendly league, it is interesting that his statistics are relatively similar. In 1952, he hit .337/.393/.501 with 16 homers, 93 runs and 82 RBI for the Texas City Texans, now as a OF-3B. He was among the Gulf Coast League leaders in average (7th, between Bill Blackwell and Wally Schroeder) and slugging (10th, between Ralph Bedford and Stan Goletz). Despite hitting well in class B, he never made it to a higher classification.

Juan made his Cuban Winter League debut in 1952-1953, going 8 for 23 with Marianao. [3] He hit .339/.395/.490 with 100 runs and 89 RBI for the 1953 Crowley Millers, finishing second in the Evangeline League in average (.008 behind Mauro Iacavello), 7th in slugging, first in hits (187, 11 ahead of Benny Leonard), 2nd with 36 doubles (4 behind Leonard) and tied with Roger McKee for 10th in homers (13). He fielded .968 at second base and led league second basemen in putouts (396), errors (41) and double plays (84). [4]

He returned to Crowley in 1954. Having played 1B, 2B, 3B and OF regularly in the minors, he now added pitching too. He was 14-6 with a 3.02 ERA while batting .322/.367/.470 with 31 doubles, 16 homers, 98 runs and 104 RBI. He also fielded .980 in the outfield, third-best among Evangeline Leaguers with 100+ games there. He was 7th in the league in hits (7th, between Gullermo Vega and Remy LeBlanc), tied John Karpinski for 10th in wins and had the 3rd-best ERA among hurlers with 100+ innings. [5] Back in the Cuban Winter League after a winter away, he was 5 for 17 for Marianao and pitched one shutout inning. [6]

The Havana native had another fine two-way campaign for the 1955 Millers: 10-8, 3.28; .300/.344 /.409. He made the loop's top ten in average and hits and led outfielders with a .991 fielding percentage, with 8 assists to one error. [7] He was 2 for 9 for Marianao in 1955-1956. [8] For the 1956 Midland Indians, he hit .294/.340/.398 with 74 RBI but slumped to 1-7, 4.45 on the mound. He also took over the managerial reins from Rudy Briner in August. He did have the team's second-best ERA in a hitter-friendly circuit.

In 1956-1957, he was 1 for 4 with a run for Marianao, which won their first title in 20 years. [9] He ended his US career in 1957 with the Pampa Oilers/San Angelo Colts, producing at a .314/.359/.419 clip and going 3-2 with a 5.26 ERA. He was 5 for 9 with 6 RBI as an excellent bench player for Marianao in 195-1958 while going 0-1 on the hill. [10] The player-coach did not get into a game when Marianao won the 1960 Caribbean Series, the last Cuban Caribbean Series title until 2015 (the country did not send a representative for decades after the Cuban Revolution. [11]

Izaguirre had hit .308 in 890 minor league games and gone 28-22 as a pitcher. He later managed in Guatemala and was pitching coach for the Industriales, working with players such as René Arocha, Lázaro de la Torre, Leonardo Tamayo, Jose Darcourt, Lázaro Valle and Orlando Hernández. [12]

Sources[edit]

  1. A History of Cuban Baseball by Peter Bjarkman, pg. 199
  2. ibid., pg. 219
  3. Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo, pg. 369
  4. 1954 Baseball Guide, pg. 330-333
  5. 1955 Baseball Guide, pg. 307-311
  6. Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, pg. 398
  7. 1956 Baseball Guide, pg. 320-323
  8. Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, pg. 410
  9. Cuban Baseball: A Statisticxl History, pg. 424
  10. Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, pg. 434-435
  11. ibid., pg. 440
  12. Obituary