Phil Ortega

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Filomeno Coronada Ortega

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Biographical Information[edit]

"You're missing the point. In this town you have to be Mexican." - what Phil Ortega was told by a Hispanic radio announcer after he was touted by the Dodgers as a Hispanic but protested that he was actually a Native American who spoke no Spanish, as related in the book Velvet Barrios

"There can't be more than six hundred Indian baseball fans in Southern California, but there are (far more) Mexicans. . . I could have scalped (Phil Ortega) the other day when he told Vin Scully on the pre-game show that he is an Indian." - Buzzie Bavasi, as quoted in the book Viva Baseball

Phil Ortega pitched ten seasons in the majors, most notably as a mainstay of the Washington Senators (managed at the time by his former Dodger teammate Gil Hodges) along with another former Dodger pitcher, Pete Richert.

Phil was born in Gilbert, AZ, near Phoenix, AZ. He attended Mesa High School, also in the Phoenix area.

He was signed in 1959 as a free agent and immediately was put at the AAA level with the Spokane Indians. During all or part of 7 seasons spent in the minors, almost all were spent at the AAA level, usually at Spokane.

At the major league level, Ortega spent 1960 to 1964 trying to break into a tough Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff, which included Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Johnny Podres, Stan Williams and a variety of other talented pitchers. Phil succeeded in part: during the 1962 season in which the Dodgers won 102 games, Phil appeared in 24 games, mostly as a reliever. Later, in 1964, during a year in which the Dodgers needed more starters because Podres was injured and Williams had been traded, Ortega became a starter in 25 games and also appeared 9 times in relief.

Ortega was touted by the Dodgers as a Hispanic, at a time when the Dodgers' Hispanic market was growing, but his insistence that he was in fact a Native American caused friction.

After the 1964 season, he was part of the trade that brought Frank Howard and Richert to the Senators, and Claude Osteen to the Dodgers. Phil was primarily a starter in his four seasons with the Senators, perhaps most notably posting .500 records in two seasons when the Senators finished well under .500 as a team, going 12-12 in 1966 and 10-10 in 1967. He beat the Chicago White Sox, 1-0, in the last days of the 1967 season, eliminating them from the pennant race.

He finished his career in 1969 with the California Angels.

Ortega did not appear in post-season play with the Dodgers.

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