Rigoberto Mena

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Rigoberto Narciso Martínez Murilla (Rigo)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 149 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Rigo Mena, a shortstop from Nicaragua, played as high as AAA.

He played for the Nicaraguan national team in the 1959 Pan American Games then signed with the Detroit Tigers organization in 1961. His first season, he hit .291/?/.360 for the Decatur Commodores, fielding .900 at shortstop. He was sharper with the '62 Jamestown Tigers (.333/.363/.451, 84 RBI, .921 FLD in 109 G) and also played 7 games for the Duluth-Superior Dukes (6 for 26, 2 3B, 4 BB). He was third in the New York-Pennsylvania League in average (behind Ted Uhlaender and Richard Bazinet), tied for 4th with 8 triples, 7th in RBI (between Uhlaender and Jim Rooker) and first in hits (154, 9 ahead of runner-up Brant Alyea).

He fielded .947 for the 1963 Tidewater Tides while producing at a .286/.313/.380 clip. He led Carolina League shortstops in fielding percentage and he tied for 7th in triples (8). He rose as high as Triple-A with the St. Louis Cardinals chain in 1964 (no Nicaraguan would make it further until Dennis Martinez in 1976), going 11 for 54 with a homer and 3 walks for the Jacksonville Suns. Partway through that season, though, he went to Mexico, where he continued to play in the summers through 1976. He hit .308/.338/.366 in 74 games for the 1964 Monterrey Sultanes. In '65, he batted .289/.304/.411 with nearly as many home runs (11) as walks (12), always being a free swinger. He fielded .950 that season.

In 1966, the Managua native hit .314/.333/.426 and fielded .963 for the Sultanes. He was 8th in the Mexican League in average, between Emilio Sosa and Ronnie Camacho. He batted .299/.319/.401 in 1967, his fielding percentage falling to .936, his 49 errors leading shortstops in the Mexican League. With Monterrey in 1968, he socked a career-high 14 home runs, hitting .295/.323/.418 while fielding .958 at SS. In his 5th summer for Monterrey, his batting line read .316/.332/.391 and he fielded .957; he was 10th in the LMB in average. He hit .281/.299/.357 in 1970, fielding .957 again at SS and seeing some action now at 3B as well.

Still only 28 years old, he moved to the Stevedores de Tampico and hit .315/.340/.357 in 1971. Now playing third base regularly, he led Mexican Leaguers at his new position with 23 errors. In 1972, he did well at the plate (.311/.347/.423, 73 RBI, 13 HR) and showed a lot of progress at the hot corner, this time leading LMB third basemen in fielding percentage (.965); Tampico had former major leaguer Roberto Peña now manning short. In 1973, Mena moved on to his final club in Mexico, the Saraperos de Saltillo. He hit .352/.380/.425 his first season with them, good for fifth in the league in average (between Gabriel Lugo and Enrique Rivera). He was not named the league's All-Star third baseman as Benjamín Cerda was a more complete package, with more walks, more power and a better glove. His production dropped (.276/.329/.334) in 1974; he drew 37 walks, but 16 of them were intentional. In 1975, he hit .310/.340/.380 and led the league's third basemen in fielding percentage for the second time (.979). In his last year, he faded fast, hitting only .216/.286/.261 while fielding .950 at 3B.

He coached for Nicaragua in the 1978 Amateur World Series. According to a 2006 article in the Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diario, Mena is regarded as the best shortstop that Nicaragua has ever produced.