Patricio Athelstan Scantlebury
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 1", Weight 180 lb.
- Debut April 19, 1956
- Final Game August 3, 1956
- Born November 11, 1917 in Gatun, Panama Canal Zone
- Died May 24, 1991 in Glen Ridge, NJ USA
Pat Scantlebury, who had a significant career in the Negro Leagues and in the minor leagues, appeared in one season in the majors, with the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1956, the year when Frank Robinson was a rookie with the team. He and Rod Carew are the only two major league players born in Gatun in the Canal Zone in Panama. He appeared in four Caribbean Series, including the first three ever.
Scantlebury played for the Panama national team in the 1941 Amateur World Series, helping his team to a 5-3 record. He was 0-2 in the 1943 Amateur World Series but led his team a 2.05 ERA, 8th in the event (between M. Acuña and teammate Víctor Greenidge) He debuted in the US with the 1944 New York Cubans, going 1-4. In 1945, he was 2-1. He had a 4-3 record in 1946. In the first 1946 East-West Game, the Panamanian was hit hard, allowing 3 runs in 1/3 of an inning as the lone bad hurler in the East's 6-3 win. He was greeted by an Artie Wilson single. Scantlebury retired Archie Ware. Sam Jethroe hit a potential double play ball which Sam Bankhead muffed. Piper Davis singled home Wilson. Willie Grace then drove in Jethroe and Davis with a hit. Bill Byrd relieved the struggling Scantlebury. He was 2-2 for the Ponce Lions in the 1946-1947 Puerto Rican League.
In 1947, the left-hander began to emerge as a productive hurler at age 29. He had a 10-5 record and tied Luis Tiant Sr. for third in the Negro National League in wins, trailing Max Manning and Rufus Lewis. In the 1947 Negro World Series, he allowed a three-run homer to Johnny Cowan in Game 1 but pitched four scoreless innings before the game ended in a tie due to rain. In Game 6, he won in relief of Luis Tiant Sr. to help the Cubans to their only title. He was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in the Series.
Scantlebury had a 10-6, 1.86 record for the Almendares Blues in the 1947-1948 Cuban Winter League. He ranked second to Connie Marrero in ERA that season. Scantlebury played for Panama's entry in the 1949 Caribbean Series and went 1-0 but was shelled for 20 hits in 8 1/3 IP for Spur Cola. In the 1949 East-West Game, he got the save in a 4-0 win by the East. He did not allow a run in 3 innings to finish a shutout started by Schoolboy Griffith and Pullman Porter. He did blow the no-hitter Griffith and Porter had going, allowing two hits, including a double to Piper Davis. Scantlebury was 7-5 with a 3.52 ERA for the New York Cubans in 1949.
Scantlebury was 0-1 for the champion Panama entry from Carta Vieja in the 1950 Caribbean Series, the only Panamanian team to win the title until 2019. He followed with a 5-3, 3.94 season for the New York Cubans in the 1950 Negro League season. He pitched a scoreless inning in the 1950 East-West Game, throwing the final inning in a 5-3 loss by the East. He was also MVP of the 1950 National Baseball Congress World Series while playing for the champion Fort Wayne Capeharts.
Scantlebury went to the Mexican League in 1951, pitching for the Veracruz Eagle. He was 13-11 with a 4.18 ERA. He walked 104 in 181 innings. For Spur Cola in the 1951 Caribbean Series, Scantlebury was 0-1. In the 1953 Caribbean Series, Scantlebury had a 1-1 record and led all pitchers with 18 1/3 innings pitched. He lost a 6-1 decision to the Havana Reds and beat Caracas, 3-2.
The southpaw lied about his age to enter Organized Baseball, subtracting 8 years. In 1953, the 35-year-old debuted in the minor leagues, with a 24-11, 3.37 record for the Texarkana Bears. He led the Big State League in wins and strikeouts (177). He was second in the league in innings pitched (286) and led in hits allowed (314). He tied for second in the BSL with five shutouts and paced the circuit with 28 complete games (in 33 starts). He led the league's pitchers with 75 assists and 6 errors, but his fielding percentage (.935) was not far below average for pitchers, as the errors were spread over so many chances. Scantlebury also showed good skill at the plate, hitting .263/~.324/.413 with 10 doubles and 5 home runs in 167 AB. He was used in 36 games in which he did not throw a pitch, leading one to conclude he was one of Texarkana's top [pinch-hitter]s.
In 1954, Scantlebury was 18-13 with a 4.12 ERA for the Dallas Eagles and tied Vicente Amor and Willard Schmidt for third in the Texas League in wins. He hit .301 for the Eagles. He also won two games for the Havana Sugar Kings to conclude his second straight 20-win season in the minors.
In 1956, Scantlebury joined the Cincinnati Redlegs as part of a working agreement they had with Havana. He was 0-1 with a 6.63 ERA in 6 games for them and went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts at the plate. While he claimed to be only 30, the 38-year-old was well past the age the vast majority of rookies debut in the majors. 51 years later, it was noted that 29-year-old Tom Shearn became the oldest Reds rookie starter since Scantlebury. Pat missed becoming the first Panamanian in the majors by a year, following Webbo Clarke, Hector Lopez and Humberto Robinson, all of whom debuted in 1955.
He also spent part of 1956 with the Seattle Rainiers (.379/.379/.552 in 29 AB, 2-3 with a 3.34 ERA on the mound) and with Havana (5-5, 2.57).
In 1957, Scantlebury struggled, only hitting .225/~.382/.315 for Havana and going 12-15 with a 3.45 ERA. He led the IL with 26 home runs allowed and tied Lynn Lovenguth for second in losses, two behind Fred Kipp. It was quite a turn-around from his ERA leadership in the league two years prior.
Scantlebury's 3.02 ERA with the Sugar Kings was the second-lowest in team history, trailing Mike Cuellar's 2.86.
Scantlebury was 3-6 for the Cienfuegos entry in the 1957-1958 Cuban Winter League. In 1958, the 40-year-old went to the Toronto Maple Leafs and went 15-9 with a 3.87 ERA. He tied for fifth in the IL in victories. The next year, he had a 12-5, 3.07 record for Toronto and still hit .325 with two homers despite his advanced age. His record was slightly better than a future big-league star, Chris Short (12-9, 3.16).
As late as 1960, he was still a good pitcher, posting a 7-5 record and a 2.63 ERA for the Maple Leafs who won 100 games. It was a team that featured the young Sparky Anderson at second base. Scantlebury's ERA was lower than future luminaries such as Bob Gibson, Bob Veale and Ron Perranoski managed in the 1960 IL. In his final season, 1961, Pat was 2-4 with a 3.43 ERA and batted .286.
Overall, Scantlebury was 112-80 in the minor leagues, 29-21 in the Negro Leagues (missing the records for 1948), 0-1 in the majors, 13-12 in the Cuban Winter League and 2-3 in the Caribbean Series. He also pitched for years in the Panama League in the winter.
Later in life, Scantlebury suffered from Parkinson's Disease. He was elected to the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its 2012 class.
Sources: The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley, The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester, 1954 Baseball Guide, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo, The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros, 1956 PCL season for Diamond Mind Baseball by Stephen Davis, MILB.com, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, A Baseball Odyssey by Dave Roberts and Tony Salin, A History of Cuban Baseball by Peter Bjarkman