Al Lopez Biography
Died At Age: 97
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Alfonso Ramón 'Al' López
Born in: Tampa, Florida
Famous as: Former American Baseball Player
father: Modesto Lopez
children: Al Jr.
place of death: Tampa, Florida
U.S. State: Florida
City: Tampa, Florida
Al Lopez was an American professional baseball player and baseball team manager, who went on to become one of the most celebrated players and managers in the game. Lopez was born to Spanish immigrants, who came to the United States via Cuba and he grew up in an immigrant area in Tampa, Florida. His brother introduced him to baseball when they watched the World Series and thereafter Lopez became interested in the game. By the time he was only 16, he became a professional and his first big franchise was the Los Angeles Dodgers for whom he played for five years as a catcher. Subsequently he went on to play for the Boston Bees, the Pittsburgh Pirates and finally the Cleveland Indians in a professional career that spanned just short of two decades. Following the end of his playing career, Lopez became the manager of the Indianapolis Indians before going on to manage the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. He was a successful and consistent manager but he failed to win the World Series in his career. Lopez was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame and is considered among the icons of the game.
- Alfonso Ramon Lopez, better known as Al Lopez, was born in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida, United States on 20 August 1908 to Modesto Lopez and his wife, who were Spanish immigrants who had come to America via Cuba. Lopez’s father Modesto worked in the thriving cigar industry in Tampa as a cigar selector.
- Lopez became interested in baseball in 1920 when he watched the World Series that year with this brother and wanted to become a professional baseball player from then on. He practiced hard as he was determined to make it into the professional baseball leagues and stated later that even though his brother had the talent to become a professional, he was more determined.
- Lopez studied at the Sacred Heart College in Tampa, but dropped out in 1924 when he became a member of the Class D Tampa Smokers squad as a catcher. He also worked as a Cuban bread delivery boy for La Joven Francesca Bakery but he gave up that job as well after becoming a professional.
- Lopez started playing for the Class D Tampa Smokers, who were in the lower tier of baseball at the time and over a period of four years; he improved his game that drew attention from legendary baseball pitcher Walter Johnson. In 1928, Lopez debuted in the Major League, the highest level of baseball in a game for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- By 1930, Lopez had become the regular starter in the role of a catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and played for 5 years for the team as he became one of the most reliable catchers in the game at the time. His 3rd full season at the club was the most noteworthy as he stopped 10 bases and ended up at 10th place on the list for the Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player voting.
- In 1936 Lopez moved to the Boston Bees and played for the team for four years, before transferring immediately to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played for six years at the Pirates before finally retiring following a short stint with Cleveland Indians. During a professional career that lasted 19 years, Lopez became known more as a defensive player and was one of the most respected players in the league.
- During his stint at the Pittsburgh Pirates, Lopez became the catcher with the highest number of appearances. He had a tally of 1918 appearances throughout his professional career. That record stood untouched for 40 years. In 1948, Lopez became the manager of the Indianapolis Indians, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates and during his three year tenure, and the team finished at the top once while it finished at second position twice.
- In 1951, the Cleveland Indians appointed Lopez as their manager and he managed them for five years. In the first three seasons, the team ended up at the second place behind the New York Yankees. In the fourth season, the Cleveland Indians triumphed in 111 games that was a record at the time but lost the World Series to the New York Giants in a shock defeat. In his last two seasons, he guided the Indians to two more second place finishes and then resigned following disagreements with the management.
- In 1957, Lopez became the manager of the Chicago White Sox and after guiding the team to two second place finishes in his first two seasons, he helped the team win the American League pennant in his third season. However, the same year, the White Sox lost in the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. His first stint with the White Sox ended after eight years, during which he guided them to five second position finishes. He quit as the manager due to a stomach ailment and was designated as team vice president.
- In 1968, Lopez came back as the manager of Chicago White Sox after the then manager Eddie Stanly was sacked but he could not carry on since he had to undergo surgery. He returned as manager the following season as well but his deteriorating health meant that he had no option but to retire from managements.
- Al Lopez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.
- Lopez got married to New York based bar dancer Evelyn ‘Connie’ Kearney in 1939, after having been in a relationship for some years. The couple had a son named Al Jr.
- Lopez died on October 30, 2005 due to a heart attack in Tampa at the age of 97.
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